Preliminary Positive Result Found During DEC Monitoring Efforts

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has received a preliminary positive result for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild deer sampled in Oneida County. If confirmed, this will be the first known occurrence of CWD in the wild in New York State.

The positive sample was from a yearling white-tailed deer, and was tested as part of DEC’s intensive monitoring effort in Oneida County. The sample tissue was tested at the State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University. The sample will be sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa to be verified.

DEC implemented intensive monitoring efforts after CWD was found in two captive white-tailed deer herds in Oneida County – the first incidents of CWD in New York State. On April 8, 2005, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) completed testing of the captive deer and found a total of five positive results for CWD in the two captive herds.

To date, DEC, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, has sampled 213 deer from Oneida County, and 25 deer from the Town of Arietta, Hamilton County. Since 2002, DEC has conducted statewide sampling of wild deer for CWD. When combined with sampling efforts in Oneida and Hamilton Counties, DEC has collected more than 3,700 samples from wild white-tailed deer.

In response to the latest finding, DEC and DAM will continue public outreach to interested parties in Oneida County to help educate citizens on CWD and to discuss next steps to be taken. In addition, DEC and DAM will conduct additional outreach and continue to aggressively pursue inspection and enforcement at all captive deer herds across the State.

DAM continues to investigate, sample and test white-tailed deer from two captive herds directly associated with the two herds that were confirmed positive for CWD in Oneida County. Results for these sampling efforts will be announced when available. DAM also continues to review its regulations regarding the movement, surveillance and monitoring of live cervids in New York State.

Later this week, DEC will file emergency regulations to ensure the proper handling of deer and prevent further spread of CWD in the wild herd. The emergency regulations will establish a containment area in Oneida County, where CWD has been identified and where certain requirement will be established on movement and handling of deer. The containment area will initially include the cities of Rome, Sherrill, Utica and Oneida, as well as the towns of Floyd, Marcy, Whitestown, Westmoreland, Verona, Vernon, Kirkland and New Hartford. Within the containment area, DEC’s emergency regulations will:

  • prohibit the movement of certain animal parts out of the containment area;
  • establish mandatory check stations for any deer taken by hunters in the containment area;
  • prohibit possession of any deer killed by a motor vehicle so DEC can acquire specimens for testing; and,
  • prohibit the collection, sale, possession or transport of deer or elk urine taken from the containment area.

In addition to the requirements listed for the containment area, DEC’s emergency regulations will include provisions to be followed by individuals and facilities across the State. The emergency regulations will also:

  • specify record keeping and reporting requirements for taxidermists and require measures to prevent live cervids from coming in contact with any materials, including taxidermy materials, that may contain the infectious agent that causes CWD;
  • prohibit wildlife rehabilitators to take in wild white-tailed deer at facilities that house live cervids, unless they possess a specific permit from DEC;
  • require retailers who sell deer feed to post a sign provided by DEC to advise buyers of the State prohibition on feeding wild deer; regulations will also prohibit the sale of deer feed that is packaged or labeled for wild white-tailed deer

DEC will continue intensive sampling of wild deer in Oneida County through April 30, 2005. Additionally, DEC will sample all deer killed within the containment area pursuant to nuisance deer permits and by hunters for CWD testing. DEC will use the results of all these efforts to describe the distribution and prevalence of CWD in wild deer as accurately as possible.

CWD is a transmissible disease that affects the brain and central nervous system of certain deer and elk. There is no evidence that CWD is linked to disease in humans or domestic livestock other than deer and elk. More information on CWD can be found at DEC’s website at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/deer/currentcwd.html.