© 2021 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Health, Science, Environment

Missouri Expands Efforts To Control Chronic Wasting Disease In Deer

A visibly ill deer showing symptoms of chronic wasting disease, including drooping ears and weight loss.
Terry Kreeger
/
Wyoming Game and Fish and Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance
A visibly ill deer showing symptoms of chronic wasting disease, including drooping ears and weight loss.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is expanding its monitoring zone to try to contain chronic wasting disease among deer, a fatal neurological disease.

The Conservation Commission voted two weeks ago to reinstate mandatory CWD checks for all deer taken the first weekend of the November firearms season. Hunters will have to take their kills to be tested for the disease.

“Our entire response plan is designed on finding the disease as early as possible and intervening early, as well. So we are trying to be aggressive in not letting the disease get widely established,” said Jasmine Batten, Wildlife Health Program supervisor with the Department of Conservation.

The commission also voted to add Pulaksi, Laclede, McDonald and Camden counties to the now 34-county CWD management zone. Batten said while there were only 44 cases of CWD last year, the disease can spread quickly if infected deer get to new areas of the state.

“One of the ways the disease can spread is in the back of the hunter’s truck, if they harvest a CWD deer and travel across the state and dispose of it on their own property,” Batten said.

There isn’t much that can be done to prevent the disease other than contain the spread, Batten said. Some hot spots where there is an increased presence of CWD can be identified for additional harvest of deer.

The proteins that cause CWD can live in soil and water, and it is highly contagious among deer, elk and moose.

So far, scientists have not found any danger in CWD to humans, but research is ongoing, and people are encouraged to not eat meat from an animal with the disease.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.