Richmond, VA — After extensive testing, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has not found any evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Virginia’s white-tailed deer population. In 2006, over 800 samples were collected from white-tailed deer throughout the state. Approximately 500 samples were collected from the active surveillance area, which includes the western and northern parts of Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke and Loudoun Counties, the area of Virginia closest to where CWD has been detected in West Virginia.
VDGIF Wildlife Division Director Bob Duncan said of the test results, “This is clearly good news, and we could not have achieved this without the hard work of the field biologists, and the cooperation and support of our partners. In particular, we owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of the Virginia Department of Transportation for their assistance with collecting road-killed deer, and to local meat processors, and above all, to the hunters who allowed us to test their deer.”
Dr. Jonathan Sleeman, wildlife veterinarian for the Department added, “While we can never say that Virginia is entirely free of the disease without testing every deer, this sample size gives us a very high confidence that if CWD is present in Virginia, then it is at very low levels.” The Department will continue its CWD surveillance into 2007.
CWD is a progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer and elk, and belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The disease ultimately results in the death of the animal. Species known to be susceptible include elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer and moose.
All hunters and members of the public are asked to keep a look out for any deer showing symptoms consistent with the disease. These clinical suspects are defined as adult (16 months or older) deer or elk that have poor body condition with neurological signs such as abnormal behavior, tremors, stumbling, incoordination, poor posture including droopy ears and a lowered head, drooling, and excessive thirst, and urination. Anyone who sees a CWD suspect deer should not attempt to contact, disturb or kill the animal. Instead, accurately document the location and immediately contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by calling 1-804-367-1258. Arrangements will be made to investigate the report.
More information about CWD and the Department’s management actions can be found on the VDGIF Web site www.dgif.virginia.gov/cwd.
It is the mission of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; to provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating, and related outdoor recreation; and to promote safety for persons and property in connection with these outdoor activities.