Due to COVID-19, the outdoor recreation season has been a huge hit this past year. From boating to fishing to hiking to camping to hunting, more and more people looked to the outdoors to socially distance in style.
States have been breaking records in hunting licenses distributed as well as overall kills during the season.
Elk Numbers in Arkansas
For Arkansas, the number of elk harvested during the 2020 season was 47.
Although this isn’t an increase, it is an exact mirror of last year’s numbers.
“Of those 47 elk, 18 were harvested by hunters on public land. Seven bulls and 11 antlerless elk were taken, which is a small decrease from last year, but we did decrease the number of permits available from last year,” Elk Program Coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Wes Wright said according to Magnolia Reporter.
Despite the same number of elk harvested in 2019, there were 2,000 more applicants for the Arkansas public land tags.
There were more private land harvests last year. On the private land, there were 29 elk harvested. This last year Arkansas made efforts to decrease the number of permits as well as the available private land quota due to the dwindling sizes of elk herds.
All of the harvested elk were tested for chronic wasting disease. There were three that came back with a positive result.
Continued Issues with CWD
More states are reportedly beginning to see increased number of chronic wasting disease in their elk and deer populations.
This is a slowly progressing disease that remains undetected for a long time. Eventually, however, the animal will have issues like weakness, abnormal behavior, excessive thirst, and other symptoms. It is a fatal disease.
As of now, it is dominant in Northwest Arkansas, however, it has impacted hunting statewide. It is something that more and more hunters are being informed of as it impacts hunting in their state. Testing meat is optional but recommended in areas with CWD present.
There are no cases in which the disease was transmitted to humans, but it’s recommended that hunters test their meat. It can take 45 to 60 days just to test the meat.
According to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, there are 770 cases of CDW in Arkansas as of January 2020. There are 19 counties in the northwest portion of the state that are CWD management zones. This means that deer cannot be transported out of the area.