Here in the Nebraska Panhandle, I live smack dab in the middle of one of the original hotspots for Chronic Wasting Disease. It’s been a decade or so now since the news first hit around here, and it was a big topic of discussion back then. Nowadays, you don’t hear about it as much, though wildlife officials still ask for tissue samples when checking in deer and each year a few animals test positive.
At first, no one was sure about eating venison. We were told not to saw through bones–especially not the spine–when butchering. Though there’s no evidence of CWD jumping to humans, we were still warned to take caution. I’ve pretty much followed that for the past 10 years even though it’s meant no roasting venison bones for stock and no braised shanks. Until now.
When butchering a cow elk last year, I threw caution to the wind and took the Sawzall to the shanks, cutting them into 1 1/2-inch-long chunks that I’ve since used in a batch of Osso Bucco. I waited for a few months before doing so, just in case the CWD tests came back positive, but I never heard anything. No news is good news, right?
With Minnesota reporting its first case of CWD in January, a whole new group of hunters have had to familiarize themselves with the disease and what it means to them. This news story from the Twin Cities tries to answer the question: Can CWD jump from deer to humans? Take a look, then let me know if the threat CWD has ever made you think twice about eating venison.