A mule deer taken in November during the deer gun season from unit 3F2 is the second deer in North Dakota to test positive for chronic wasting disease. The first was a mule deer taken during the hunting season in 2009, also from unit 3F2.
Dr. Dan Grove, North Dakota Game and Fish Department wildlife veterinarian, said a hunter shot a doe in western Grant County and submitted the head for testing as part of the hunter-harvested surveillance program.
“As a collaborative effort with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Game and Fish Department, a total of 633 samples were collected from unit 3F2 this fall, and all but one tested negative for CWD,” Grove said. “Although we hoped the one positive from 2009 was an isolated incident, it was not unexpected that another one surfaced.”
The two deer testing positive for CWD were taken 10 miles from each other, which Grove said is not surprising because of the same general area.
“Hunter cooperation was tremendous,” Grove said. “We can’t thank them enough, and we look forward to their continued support with this important issue in the future.”
The hunter-harvested surveillance program annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state. In addition to unit 3F2, samples during the 2010 deer gun season were collected from units in the eastern third of the state. The entire state has already been sampled twice.
“Michigan State University will be testing approximately 3,600 samples over the next several weeks from deer taken in the eastern third of the state,” Grove said. “Those results should be available by spring.”
In addition to hunter-harvested deer, the Game and Fish Department has a targeted surveillance program that is an ongoing, year-round effort that tests animals found dead or sick.
Since the department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 16,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD.
CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.