The Missouri Department of Conservation is conducting a mandatory chronic wasting disease tissue sampling of deer killed in 25 select counties this Saturday and Sunday.
Deer hunters will be required to bring all harvested white-tailed deer to a designated sampling station to test if it has chronic wasting disease— or CWD. It’s a fatal neurological disease, which causes the breakdown of brain tissue in deer.
“As the disease continues to spread to more deer in more areas, it will not only reduce the number of deer, but it could reduce the health of overall deer in Missouri and really kill a lot more deer, which we don’t want,” said Joe Jerek, a spokesperson with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
42 cases of the fatal neurological disease have been found in Missouri, four of which came from Franklin County and an additional case in Jefferson County. The department wants to reduce the spread of it with the mandatory tissue sampling.
The department wants to reduce the spread of CWD by intentionally collecting tissue samples during two of the most popular deer hunting days of the year.
“We find out faster and sooner where maybe some of these cases are and then we can address that more quickly,” Jerek said.
Since the tissue samples will be taken from the deer’s lymph nodes, the department recommends that hunters who bring in deer with detached heads have at least six inches of the neck accessible.
“Those samples we then send to an independent outside laboratory who does the actual testing for the disease,” Jerek said. “And we hope to get results back as soon as possible.”
If a deer tests positive for CWD, the hunter will be contacted by the department and given further details.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no known cases of CWD infecting people, but it’s ill-advised to consume meat from a deer that has tested positive for it.
Sampling stations will open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to mandatory CWD sampling, the department is providing voluntary CWD sampling for the remainder of the deer hunting season.
The first cases of CWD in Missouri were found in 2010 and 2011 in captive deer at a private big game hunting and breeding facility in Macon and Linn counties. A year later, the disease had spread to free-ranging and wild deer cases found in Macon county in 2012. The department estimates there are 1.2 million deer in the state.
Follow Marrissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011