Yearly Archives: 2016

Chronic wasting disease results climb to 50

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has received 27 more positive cases of chronic wasting disease from a recent batch of samples taken in northern Newton County. This brings the total number of CWD-positive deer and elk cases in Arkansas to 50.

Although the intensive sampling effort to determine prevalence has been halted, many results from that effort are still pending.

“The samples that already have been taken should give us a good indication of the prevalence of CWD in the area,” said Brad Carner, chief of the AGFC’s Wildlife Management Division.

Carner says the last batch of 110 samples should arrive late next week. Samples collected from deer are sent to the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison. The elk samples are going to the Colorado State University Prion Research Center in Fort Collins. So far, three of the elk samples have been found to be positive for CWD.

Some CWD-positive samples came from dead or sick deer found outside the original sampling zone. This has prompted a second phase of sampling to begin on a much larger scale.

“Since it was found outside our original focal area, we need to see just how far the disease has spread,” said Cory Gray, AGFC deer program coordinator. “We will need the public’s help more than ever for this next phase of testing.”

Gray says the AGFC will take samples from any sick or dead deer reported throughout the state. A primary focus will be on road-killed animals.

“Samples taken from road kills have a greater chance of testing positive than random samples from healthy animals,” Gray said. “The presence of CWD can only be determined within a day or two of the animal’s death, so we need the public to call in and report any road-killed deer as soon as they see it.”

This second phase of testing will continue until at least May 20. Any person witnessing a sick or dead deer or elk should contact the AGFC’s radio room at 800-482-9262. Operators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

CWD is a neurological disease that’s part of a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Once in a host’s body, prions transform normal cellular protein into abnormal shapes that accumulate until the cell ceases to function. As the brains of infected animals degenerate, they lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate and grind their teeth.

The AGFC is holding weekly public meetings at Carroll Electric Cooperative, 511 E. Court St. in Jasper. The next meeting will be at 11 a.m., April 7.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information.

First batch of target tests reveals 19 additional CWD-positive cervids

LITTLE ROCK – Bad news continues to roll in from north Arkansas amid the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s efforts to find the prevalence rate of chronic wasting disease in the area where the disease initially was detected. Results from last week’s tests revealed an additional 18 deer and a single elk with the disease.

Last week, tissue samples from 49 deer and elk taken in and around the 125,000-acre focal area were sent to the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison for testing. Out of the 18 positive deer samples, four were found just outside of the AGFC’s focal area. Those deer were either found dead or were killed by vehicles. The single cow elk was taken from the Boxley Valley area of Newton County.

Arkansas now has 22 CWD positive samples from the state’s deer and elk. Before today’s lab results, two deer and an elk had tested positive for the fatal disease. All three of those initially tested cervids came from within Newton County. Today’s test results included 17 positive samples from Newton County and two deer from Boone County.

The first animal in Arkansas confirmed to have CWD was a 2½-year-old female elk. The elk was killed by a hunter Oct. 6 on the Buffalo National River near Pruitt during elk season. The disease was confirmed on Feb. 23.
As of today, more than 260 deer and 18 elk have been taken for sampling. Another large batch of samples is currently at the Wisconsin lab with results expected late next week.

The AGFC will continue its efforts to sample elk that appear to be sick from throughout the known elk range. Due to the large number of positive samples, including samples outside the established focal area, emphasis will be placed on collecting samples from road-killed deer and sick or dead deer throughout northwest Arkansas in order to determine the extent of the disease’s distribution.

The latest test results were a blow to AGFC Chief of Wildlife Management Brad Carner. “This is not good news. We were hopeful that all positive samples would be contained within our focal area. That’s obviously not the case,” he said. “We also hoped to find a low prevalence rate in the test samples. We’re disappointed, but still focused on the job at hand,” Carner noted.

Landowners continue to be very helpful in allowing the AGFC access to their property, Carner says. “Much of the land within the zone where the agency is working is privately owned. We continue to ask for their help and help from anyone who sees a deer or elk that appears to be ill.”

The public can report sick deer and elk by calling 800-482-9262 or by email at cwdinfo@agfc.ar.gov, 24 hours a day.

Although there are no confirmed cases of CWD transmission from cervids to humans or to livestock, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Arkansas Department of Health recommend that people not consume meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.

The AGFC is holding weekly public meetings in Jasper at Carroll Electric, 511 E Court St. The next meetings will be held March 24, 31 and April 7 beginning at 11 a.m.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information.

Five Deer Test Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

Deer in the forestThe Maryland Department of Natural Resources has received laboratory confirmation that five white-tailed deer harvested in Allegany County tested positive for chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease in deer, bringing the total overall cases to 11. Four of the five deer were harvested in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area (the eastern one-third of the county). The other deer was taken near Cumberland, marking the first documented case outside of the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area.

“Chronic wasting disease is an unfortunate but inevitable reality for a small amount of deer in western Maryland,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said. “Given that this disease is now present in the region, our wildlife biologists will continue to work diligently to document and monitor its presence, which, so far, has been limited to Allegany County. We urge citizens to only consume the meat of deer that appear healthy.”

Concerns over the disease should not stop anyone from hunting deer or enjoying venison. There is no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans, livestock or other animals. It is recommended that hunters avoid consuming the meat of sick animals as well as the brain, spinal column or lymph nodes of deer — all of which are normally removed during the butchering process.

Maryland is one of more than 23 states and Canadian provinces with chronic wasting disease documented in deer, elk or moose. The department has intensively sampled for this disease since 2002, before it was initially found in the in West Virginia in 2005. The first confirmed case in Maryland was reported in February 2011. To date, 11 samples tested positive out of more than 8,500 deer tested in Maryland. Since 2010, sampling efforts have been focused on Allegany and western Washington counties due to the presence of the disease in nearby West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

More information on chronic wasting disease, please click here. Anyone with questions may contact the department at 410-260-8540.

Arkansas: Third case of chronic wasting disease confirmed near Mt. Sherman

LITTLE ROCK – A second white-tailed deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The disease is fatal to deer and elk.

The second positive CWD test came from a deer north of Mt. Sherman at Camp Orr. The AGFC took tissue samples from the 4½-year-old female deer, which was found dead on March 2. The Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison, confirmed the test late Monday. Earlier this month, another deer was found dead in Ponca. That deer also tested positive for CWD.

The two deer are in addition to an elk killed during a hunt near Pruitt, which was confirmed to have the disease Feb. 23. All three locations are in northern Newton County near the Buffalo River.

The 2½-year-old female elk was killed by a hunter Oct. 6 on the Buffalo National River near Pruitt during elk hunting season. It was the first animal in Arkansas confirmed to have CWD. The disease was confirmed on Feb. 23. The elk was tested by the same lab that confirmed CWD in the deer from Ponca.

To determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease among deer, the AGFC has begun taking samples within a capsule-shaped area ranging from 5 miles west of Ponca to 5 miles east of Pruitt, and 5 miles across.

The dead deer found near Mt. Sherman is in the AGFC’s focal testing area, according to AGFC Chief of Wildlife Management Brad Carner. “This positive sample falls squarely in the middle of our sampling area so we will not have to make any adjustments at this time. We will try to intensify our sampling in the immediate vicinity of this detection,” he added.

“We need to sample 300 deer to determine the prevalence and the spatial distribution of CWD in the population with 95 percent confidence,” said Dick Baxter, an assistant chief in the Wildlife Management Division.

Enough free-ranging deer have to be tested before there’s a strong statistical chance of detecting CWD in 1 percent of the herd. This is a common method to estimate CWD prevalence in deer populations. As results are analyzed, wildlife biologists will adjust the strategy.

“The test area will expand as positive (CWD) tests warrant,” said Cory Gray, AGFC deer program coordinator.

As of March 22, AGFC personnel have sampled 225 deer and 6 elk. Samples are being sent to the lab weekly. Results of the tests usually take 7 to 10 days.

Sampled deer and elk are processed at a base camp staffed by AGFC and National Park Service personnel. Meat from deer that don’t test positive for CWD will be given to landowners where the deer were harvested or Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Everything that is not packaged for consumption will be incinerated.

“Landowners have been very helpful in allowing us access to their property,” Gray said. “Much of the land within the zone where we are working is privately owned. We need their help and help from anyone who sees a deer or elk that appears to be ill.”

The public can report sick deer and elk by calling 800-482-9262 or by email at cwdinfo@agfc.ar.gov, 24 hours a day.

Although there are no confirmed cases of CWD transmission from cervids to humans or to livestock, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Arkansas Department of Health recommend that people not consume meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.

The AGFC is holding weekly public meetings in Jasper at Carroll Electric, 511 E Court St. The next meetings will be held March 24, 31 and April 7 beginning at 11 a.m.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information.

 

Michigan confirms additional CWD-positive free-ranging, white-tailed deer, bringing the total to seven

Landowner assistance critical to continued management of deadly disease

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed two additional free-ranging deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.

One of the newly confirmed CWD-positive deer is a 9-month-old male from Meridian Township (Ingham County), and the other is a 2 ¾-year-old female from Watertown Township (Clinton County).

Since May 2015, nearly 4,900 deer have been tested for CWD. Seven of these have tested positive for the disease.

At this time, samples are being collected through road-kill pickup and professional sharpshooters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services. Since the initial case was confirmed, four of the last six positives were collected through efforts of USDA Wildlife Services staff.

In total, sharpshooters have collected just over 630 deer from the Core CWD Area, which includes nine townships. Of those, 467 deer were taken from Meridian Township, 108 from Williamstown Township, 41 from Bath Township, 12 from Lansing Township, six from DeWitt Township, and none from the remaining townships. Another 33 have been taken outside the core from Watertown Township.

“The partnership with area landowners and USDA Wildlife Services is a critical component of our surveillance efforts to determine the distribution of this fatal disease,” said Chad Stewart, DNR deer specialist. “Now, with these additional CWD-positive deer, that support is needed more than ever.”

Stewart continued, “The intensive removal of deer in these areas has a two-part benefit. One, it helps us understand prevalence rates and spread so we can make informed decisions on disease management moving forward; and two, by removing individual deer around areas with known disease occurrence, it reduces the potential for spread and accumulation in our deer herd, which has benefits not only locally, but on the periphery of the management zone as well.”

Landowners who would like to directly help with surveillance can apply for disease control permits, which allow a landowner to harvest deer on his or her own property and turn in the head to the DNR for testing. To apply for a disease control permit, contact the DNR Wildlife Disease Laboratory at 517-336-5030.

Another option for landowners to help address this disease is allowing USDA Wildlife Services sharpshooters access to their property to collect samples. Sharpshooters work closely with landowners on the number and type of deer that can be taken, and they will conduct surveillance only on property where they have permission. To inquire about working with USDA sharpshooters, contact the DNR Rose Lake field office at 517-641-4092.

To date, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling contaminated venison. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.

The DNR asks the public to continue to report deer that are unusually thin and exhibiting unusual behavior (for example, acting tame around humans and allowing someone to approach).

To report a suspicious-looking deer, call the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. After hours, call the DNR Report All Poaching hotline at 800-292-7800. Do not attempt to disturb, kill or remove the animal.

DNR staff will continue with road-kill collection in the Core CWD Area. To report road-kills found in the Core CWD Area, call the Wildlife Disease hotline at 517-614-9602. Leave a voicemail with location information and staff will attempt to pick up carcasses on the next open business day.

The DNR provides CWD biweekly updates online at www.michigan.gov/cwd.