The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received laboratory confirmation on February 10, 2011 that a white-tailed deer harvested in Maryland tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). This is the first confirmed case of CWD in Maryland. A hunter in Allegany County reported taking the deer on November 27, 2010 in Green Ridge State Forest. Maryland is now one of 21 other states and Canadian provinces with CWD documented in deer, elk or moose.
“Our team of wildlife professionals has been preparing for this result for some time so we are well-informed and ready to limit the impact of this event,” said Paul Peditto, Director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service. “We have sampled intensively for this disease since 2002 and see this as an unfortunate but somewhat inevitable outcome. The good news is that our preparation and planning ensure a sound scientific foundation for our response to this single positive test result. With the continued cooperation of hunters, farmers, deer processors and landowners who have supported our monitoring effort, we will manage this deer disease consistent with the best available science and with minimal impact on our deer population and the people who enjoy these great animals.”
“Concerns over CWD should not stop anyone from enjoying venison,” added Peditto, who explained that only four species of the deer family are known to be susceptible to CWD: elk, mule deer, moose and white-tailed deer. Of these, only the white-tailed deer occurs in the wild in Maryland and there are no reported cases of transmission to humans or other animals.
As always, hunters are advised to exercise caution and never consume the meat of sick animals. Hunters are also advised to avoid contact with the brain, spinal column or lymph nodes of deer — all of which are normally removed during the butchering process.
This is the first positive sample out of nearly 6,800 deer tested in Maryland since 1999. From 2002 until 2009 that sampling occurred statewide. In 2010, sampling efforts were focused on Allegany and western Washington counties due to the presence of positive cases in nearby West Virginia and Virginia. West Virginia first detected CWD in Hampshire County in 2005 and it was found in Frederick County, Virginia in early 2010.
“Maryland will continue to work closely with the wildlife professionals in our adjacent states to share information and coordinate response efforts. However, our primary goal is to ensure the public is fully-informed and knows what we know when we know it. We want to be certain that every interested Marylander understands this disease and recognizes that there is no risk to people, pets or domestic livestock. As in every other state with CWD, we will respond appropriately while ultimately learning to live with this disease with little impact to our wildlife or citizens,” Peditto concluded. For more information on CWD in Maryland and the DNR Response Plan, please visit the DNR Website