Have diseases like the bluetongue virus and chronic wasting disease (CWD) hit the deer population so hard that several Southeastern states have been forced to close down deer season? If you have spent time on Facebook, you may have heard that North Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi have all decided to stop deer season in its tracks. This led to a small panic among hunters and officials were soon inundated with questions about the status of the state’s deer population.

The rumors were completely unsubstantiated and at least two state wildlife departments came forward, calling it a hoax. Early in September, numerous “news articles” claiming that deer season was canceled were shared on Facebook. People who clicked on the article link were immediately informed that it was a prank. Unfortunately, many did not click the link and took the information at face value. Like wildfire, the rumor spread by word of mouth. Due to the number of people talking about it on social media, even internet-savvy hunters began to question if they could still get venison this season.

Many began to contact their local wildlife offices.

“A lot of people are copying posts on Facebook that deer season is canceled this year due to deer having some type of sickness, is this a scam or truth? It seems far-fetched but wanted to find out the truth!” wrote one person on the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s (NCWRC) Facebook page.

“Please address the rumors on Facebook that deer season has been cancelled because of a blue tongue outbreak?” wrote another on the Arkansas Game and Fish Facebook page.

Wildlife officials were quite frank in calling the rumors an absolute fabrication.

“These reports are simply untrue. The post was created using a known prank website and shared via Facebook. Please ignore this post and others like it. Official Commission announcements will always be distributed through our verified social media channels,” stated the NCWRC.

“The 2015-16 deer season will open as scheduled,” confirmed Arkansas Game and Fish.

Many of the links could be traced back to a website called feednewz.com, which has been since renamed prank.link. Clicking on the links regarding the deer season cancellation will immediately show a picture of a well-known internet meme and the words, “You Got Owned!” According to the website, the post has recorded 978,009 clicks so far, indicating that a large amount of people have fallen for the prank.

Save for pestering the wildlife agencies with questions, the prank does not appear to have done much harm. Misinformation like this is common on social media and many hunters, especially those who hunt with friends and families, are not likely to believe outlandish tales. When in doubt, a call to your local wildlife office will make short work of these rumors.

Image from Facebook

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