Yearly Archives: 2006

Devil’s Lake State Park: Deer herd reduction tied to halting spread of chronic wasting disease

BARABOO, Wis – The Department of Natural Resources will attempt to reduce the deer herd at Devil’s Lake State Park as part of the agency’s ongoing chronic wasting disease (CWD) control efforts.

Two CWD positive deer were recently identified in or near the 10,200 acre state park located in Sauk County, the northern most known extent of the disease in Wisconsin. Officials are awaiting confirmation of a third CWD positive deer shot within the park’s boundary.

Wildlife disease experts recommend that preventing CWD spread by eliminating outbreaks near the edge of the known infection area, like stamping out sparks from a forest fire to contain its spread, “is a vital part of Wisconsin’s management strategy,” noted CWD project leader Alan Crossley, Fitchburg.

Deer culled from the park will be tested to better define the disease’s extent and severity.

“Herd reduction is a standard disease control strategy in wild, free ranging deer when there is neither a treatment nor vaccine available to control a disease outbreak. This strategy removes sick animals from the landscape, and in doing so may reduce deer density to below the threshold at which transmission can occur, and minimizes the accumulation of CWD prions in the environment,” pointed out Mr. Crossley.

“Our agency is committed to halting the spread of CWD and we feel this is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate our seriousness, as the park’s land managers, to reduce the local deer herd and ensure there’s a healthy deer herd for all park users to enjoy,” he added.

CWD is a neurological disease found in elk, moose and deer. The disease-causing agent is an infectious abnormal protein, called a CWD prion, which is smaller than a virus. Disease-causing prions enter brain cells and convert normal prions into abnormally-folded prions. The abnormally-folded prions accumulate in the brain, causing the death of brain cells and development of microscopic holes.

CWD is transmitted from deer to deer, either through direct contact or body fluids contaminating the environment. A recent study in Colorado has provided strong evidence that CWD can be transmitted via saliva and researchers are also concerned about feces being a source of disease.

DNR will attempt to reduce the deer herd at Devil’s Lake State Park using agency sharp-shooters, weather permitting, after January 7, 2007, the date which marks the end of the archery deer season.

“Bait sites to attract deer for safe and effective shooting will be maintained well away from heavily used roads and trails both inside and outside the park to mitigate concerns and the potential for conflict with area residents and winter park users,” said Rich Evans, Devil’s Lake State Park supervisor.

Two of the known CWD positive deer shot in the Devil’s Lake area were targeted because of their emaciated condition, head hanging low and easy approachability, all visible indicators seen in the disease’s late stages. One was shot in the park by staff and the other just outside the park boundary by a conservation warden.

Devil’s Lake State Park is located in the CWD Herd Reduction Zone (HRZ), an area covering all or part of 19 counties which serves as a buffer between the smaller CWD Eradication Zone (DEZ) and the rest of the state.

The two known CWD positive deer and the animal pending confirmation were shot about four miles north of the DEZ border. CWD positive deer closest to those in or near Devil’s Lake were shot in on the Columbia County side of the Wisconsin River near Merrimac, about five miles away.

Since 2002, more than 115,000 wild, white-tailed deer have been tested statewide for CWD (7987 from Sauk County) with 707 testing positive (10 from Sauk County). Of deer testing positive, 682 were from the DEZ and 25 from the HRZ.

The western DEZ covers 1280 square miles and encompasses much of Iowa County, western Dane County, southern Sauk County and small sections of Columbia, Green, Lafayette and Richland Counties.

Persons interested in the latest information on CWD in Wisconsin can visit the DNR Web site at: Chronic Wasting Disease in Wisconsin.

One Additional Deer Tests Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in Hampshire County, West Virginia

Preliminary test results have detected the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) agent in one hunter-harvested deer collected in Hampshire County during the 2006 deer hunting season. “As part of our agency’s ongoing and intensive CWD surveillance effort, samples were collected from 1,355 hunter-harvested deer brought to game checking stations in Hampshire County,” according to Frank Jezioro, Director for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources ( DNR). “This most recent positive CWD sample was taken from a 2½-year-old buck harvested during the firearms deer season, and the deer was located within close proximity to the 9 positive cases previously detected in Hampshire County.”

CWD has now been detected in a total of 10 deer in Hampshire County (i.e., one road-killed deer, four deer collected by the DNR in 2005, four deer collected by the DNR in 2006 and one hunter-harvested deer during the 2006 deer season). “Our analysis of this CWD surveillance data indicates the disease appears to be found in a relatively small geographical area located near Slanesville, West Virginia,” noted DNR Director Frank Jezioro. “From a wildlife disease management perspective, we consider this to be encouraging news. Based upon these CWD surveillance findings, we are taking the steps necessary to implement appropriate management actions designed to control the spread of this disease, prevent further introduction of the disease, and possibly eliminate the disease from the state,” Jezioro said.

The following disease management options have been evaluated and implemented by the DNR within the affected area of Hampshire County:

  • Continue CWD surveillance efforts designed to determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease;
  • Lower deer population levels to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer by implementing appropriate antlerless deer hunting regulations designed to increase hunter opportunity to harvest female deer;
  • Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate deer carcass transport restrictions designed to lower the risk of moving the disease to other locations;
  • Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate regulations relating to the feeding and baiting of deer within the affected area to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer.

“Landowner and hunter cooperation throughout this entire CWD surveillance effort in Hampshire County has been just terrific,” Jezioro noted. “As we strive to meet this wildlife disease challenge and implement appropriate management strategies, the support and involvement of landowners and hunters will continue to be essential. The DNR remains committed to keeping the public informed and involved in these wildlife disease management actions.”

CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and it belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is thought to be caused by abnormal, proteinaceous particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and invariably results in the death of the infected animal. There is no known treatment for CWD, and it is fatal for the infected deer or elk. It is important to note that currently there is no evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.

“Our well-trained and professional wildlife biologists, wildlife managers and conservation officers are working diligently to fully implement the DNR ’s CWD – Incident Response Plan, which is designed to effectively address this wildlife disease threat,” said Jezioro. “Hunters, landowners and other members of the public should feel confident that we have some of the best wildlife biologists and veterinarians in the world, including those stationed at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens , Georgia , working collaboratively on this situation.”

More information on CWD can be found at the DNR ’s Web site www.wvdnr.gov and the CWD Alliance website: www.cwd-info.org.

New Cases of Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Wild Deer

Hunters and landowners help surveillance program

Edmonton… Alberta is now about half-way through testing for its 2006-07 chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance program. Three more cases of CWD in wild deer have been confirmed out of the 1,609 deer tested. This brings the total to 16 cases in wild deer in Alberta since the first case in September 2005.

The three new cases involve deer taken during the recent hunting season in areas being monitored for the disease by Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife staff. A male mule deer from along the Red Deer River (wildlife management unit [WMU] 151) tested positive for the disease. Two female mule deer were taken west of Edgerton and south of Chauvin (in WMU 234).

One of these animals came from near previously known Alberta cases. The other two came from a high-risk area near Saskatchewan where positive wild and farmed deer have been found. Two of these latest cases were confirmed December 8, and the third (near Chauvin) on December 20. Hunters and landowners have played a critical role in the success of the CWD control program. Many Alberta hunters have participated in the quota hunts, and landowners have allowed additional hunting on their property. Most seasons are closed now in the target areas, with the final licence season ending on January 15, 2007.

Hunters are reminded that submitting deer heads is a requirement in five wildlife management units along the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. These include WMUs 150, 151, 234, 256, and 500. Any heads taken in these areas and kept frozen since the animal was shot can still be dropped off at a Fish and Wildlife office or at one of the 24-hour freezers. Maps and information are posted at www.srd.gov.ab.ca/fw/diseases.

Chronic wasting disease affects the nervous system; infected animals cannot maintain weight and slowly waste away. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that CWD can infect humans. As a precaution, the World Health Organization advises against allowing products from animals known to be infected with CWD into the human food system. The three hunters have been contacted and were offered various alternatives including a replacement tag or replacement meat.

Map found here (PDF).

For further information visit website at http://www.srd.gov.ab.ca/fw/diseases/.

Media enquiries may be directed to: Lyle Fullerton Fish and Wildlife Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Peace River Phone: (780) 624-6496; cell 625-8044

Dave Ealey Communications Alberta Sustainable Resource Development Edmonton Phone: (780) 427-8636 To call toll-free within Alberta dial 310-0000.

DEM Asks Deer Hunters to Continue Submitting Samples for Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is asking hunters to continue submitting samples for Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance. Samples from over 100 deer have already been taken but the Department’s quota remains at 180, as it was last year.

Many samples are still needed from the East Bay, as well as Kent and Washington Counties. Only Providence County surveillance has been completed. Check station operators will be available to assist hunters with sample submissions. All heads must be fresh and include hunter name, address, and location of kill.

The surveillance is a continuing part of DEM’s efforts to keep Rhode Island deer herds free of Chronic Wasting Disease. Chronic Wasting Disease is a progressive neurological disease that is always fatal to deer and elk. It has been found in wild deer and elk in limited areas of several Midwest and mountain states, two Canadian provinces, central New York, and Northeastern West Virginia. As a result, very strict rules have been implemented on restricting the import of deer and other cervids from Chronic Wasting Disease-endemic areas, defined as the states and counties bordering those states where the disease has been identified.

Special CWD Season Hunts to be Held

Special CWD Season Hunts to be Held at Castle Rock State Park, Lowden-Miller State Forest and White Pines Forest State Park in Ogle County

Special Hunting Season is Jan. 12-14, 2007

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources today announced that public land hunting opportunities will be available when the Special CWD Deer Hunting Season is conducted in five northern Illinois counties Jan. 12-14, 2007. The Special CWD season – used to help control deer density and the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in counties where it has been detected in wild deer – will be open countywide in Boone, DeKalb, McHenry, Ogle, and Winnebago counties. State properties offering hunts during that season are Castle Rock State Park, Lowden Miller State Forest, and White Pines Forest State Park, all in Ogle County. All site hunts will be firearm only; no archery hunting will be allowed.

Daily hunter quotas have been established for each site. Drawings will be held each morning of the hunt at 5 a.m. to determine that day’s participating hunters. The drawing for Castle Rock State Park and Lowden Miller State Forest will be held at the Castle Rock State Park maintenance shed. The drawing for White Pines Forest State Park will be held at the White Pines site office. Hunters are encouraged to arrive early enough to register for the drawings.

In order to be eligible for the drawings, hunters must be in possession of any one of the following permits: (1) a Special CWD Season antlerless-only permit valid for Ogle County (available over-the-counter at license vendors for $5.50); (2) an unfilled 2006 firearm deer permit valid for Ogle County or for the site being applied for; or, (3) an unfilled 2006 muzzleloader deer permit valid for Ogle County or for the site being applied for. Archery deer permits, landowner deer permits, and youth permits may not be used for these special hunts.

No permits will be issued at the site prior to the drawing; all hunters must have an eligible permit in their possession when they arrive at the park. Hunters chosen at the drawings will be issued back patches and given safety instructions prior to the hunt.

Hunters using unfilled 2006 firearm or muzzleloader season permits may use only the firearm(s) allowed by that permit, and may only harvest the type of deer (either-sex or antlerless-only) identified on the permit. Successful site hunters must check their deer at the county check station located at Castle Rock State Park. Hunters who allow IDNR wildlife biologists to collect tissue samples from their deer for CWD testing will be issued an either-sex deer permit free-of-charge, valid for the entire county. Successful hunters who wish to continue hunting on a special hunt area after checking in deer must be redrawn through the hunter standby line if other hunters are waiting. The statewide bag limit of two antlered deer does not apply to deer taken during the special CWD season, but hunters are reminded that they must possess a valid either-sex tag in order to take an antlered deer.

For more information regarding the Statewide Special CWD seasons to be held at these sites, please contact:

Castle Rock State Park and Lowden-Miller State Forest: 815/732-7329 White Pines Forest State Park: 815/946-3717