PIERRE – State Game, Fish and Parks officials say all results for tissue samples submitted for chronic wasting disease testing have been returned and no additional samples tested positive.

“A total of 1,950 samples were collected since July 1, 2002,” said Big Game Biologist Steve Griffin of Rapid City. “Out of the 1,950 samples, 607 were for elk, 522 for mule deer and 821 for white-tailed deer. All samples are from the Black Hills and from prairie hunting units in Fall River and Custer counties of western South Dakota, except for 138 white-tailed deer and 1 mule deer from McPherson County in northeastern South Dakota. Also included in the totals are 33 road-killed deer samples collected from the city limits of Rapid City. Otherwise most samples were taken from hunter-killed animals.”

All 1,950 samples collected have been tested with results returned. A total of nine deer samples tested positive for CWD as listed below:

White-tailed male, within the limits of Rapid City (vehicle kill). Mule deer male, Unit 327A Fall River County (sick). Mule deer male, Unit 327A Fall River County (hunter kill). Mule deer male, Unit 327A Fall River County (hunter kill). White-tailed male, Unit 327B Fall River County (hunter kill). White-tailed female, Unit 321A Custer County (hunter kill). White-tailed male, Unit 321A Custer County (hunter kill). White-tailed male, Unit 403A Pennington County in the Black Hills (sick). White-tailed male, Unit 403A Pennington County in the Black Hills (vehicle kill). Because of the one road-killed elk collected in Wind Cave National Park last November that tested positive for CWD, there is special interest in sample numbers and test results for elk in nearby hunting units. Below is a summary of each unit’s elk sample size and test results. A point to note is that none of the elk samples tested positive.

Black Hills elk Unit 402 – 186 did not test positive of 186 samples collected. Black Hills elk Unit 403 – 205 did not test positive of 205 samples collected. Black Hills elk Unit 404 – 49 did not test positive of 49 samples collected. Custer State Park elk unit – 95 did not test positive of 95 samples collected. An additional road-killed elk found and collected in Wind Cave National Park this past year did not test positive for CWD.

From 1997 through June 2002, 1,693 deer and elk were tested with one positive return. That was in 2001 from a white-tailed deer taken in Unit 327B (Fall River County).

CWD is a fatal disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk. Researchers believe a protein called a “prion” causes it. Prions concentrate where there is a lot of nerve tissue, such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymph nodes and spleen. Prions have not been found in muscle tissue (meat). Health experts have found no evidence that CWD can be passed naturally to humans or to livestock.