The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently completed testing for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) on a sample of free-ranging white-tailed deer from areas of Linn, Macon and Chariton Counties. Test results showed no cases of CWD.
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that can be transmitted among cervids, such as deer, elk and moose.
There is no evidence that CWD can infect people, or spread from infected deer to domestic livestock, such as sheep or cattle.
CWD has been found in 17 states including Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Missouri was recently added to the list after the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) reported the state's first and only known case of CWD in late February. It came from a captive whitetail buck at a private hunting ranch in Linn County. The MDA handles CWD testing in captive deer in Missouri. The MDA then tested an additional 50 captive deer from the ranch. Results showed no additional cases of CWD.
In response to this initial case, the MDC collected tissue samples for testing from 153 free-ranging deer within a five-mile radius of the private hunting ranch. The MDC also included 72 samples collected from hunter-harvested deer taken from Linn and surrounding counties during the 2009-2010 deer seasons.
"Our test results indicate that Missouri's free-ranging deer population remains free of CWD. This is very good news," said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. "We greatly appreciate the cooperation and support from the more than 120 area landowners and sportsmen involved in harvesting deer to obtain the samples. And those deer did not go to waste. Missourians will benefit from the approximately 5,000 pounds of processed venison we were able to donate to the Share the Harvest program."
Ziehmer added that the health of the state's deer population is important to all Missourians. "Deer hunting and wildlife watching are vital parts of our state's economy, our outdoor traditions and our communities."
MDC State Deer Biologist Jason Sumners noted that the Department will continue its ongoing CWD monitoring efforts.
"We will be testing tissue samples from hunter-harvested deer taken in the northern half of the state during the upcoming fall deer seasons, and we will continue sampling efforts in the area where the initial case was discovered," said Sumners.
He added that, with the help of hunters and landowners, the MDC has tested more than 24,000 free-ranging deer for CWD since 2002 from all parts of the state with no CWD-positive deer found.
This long-term testing has been part of Missouri's ongoing monitoring for CWD through a special task force established in 2002.
The task force is composed of experts from MDA, MDC, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.