CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE UPDATE October 30, 2002

An additional captive elk facility in Nebraska has had an elk test positive for CWD. This facility is located in Sioux County, Nebraska and participated in the recent buy-out in the endemic area. This brings the total of captive positive facilities in Nebraska to 4. Three of these have been depopulated and the third was quarantined for three years with no additional positives. The quarantine on this facility was lifted in the spring of 2001.

CWD appears to be having little effect on overall deer permit sales in Nebraska. Through October 29 archery permit sales are up 14%, muzzleloader sales are up 15% and total deer permit sales are unchanged from last year. In the Pine Ridge and Upper Platte Units (endemic area for CWD), sales are down, 25% in the Pine Ridge and 29% in the Upper Platte. The regular firearm season does not open for another two weeks so these figures could change.

Regulations that restrict the use of bait for hunting deer, elk, mountain sheep and pronghorn in the state of Nebraska have been finalized and filed with the Secretary of State’s office and such activities are now illegal. Regulations adopted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Board of Commissioners in August which prohibit the private ownership of mule deer are pending executive approval.

Saskatchewan Environment has received confirmation of another case of CWD in wild deer. The latest positive sample was found in a two-year-old mule deer buck taken this fall near Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, north of Swift Current. This is the fourth case of CWD discovered in the province’s wild deer. Up to this point, all of the positive cases had been found in the Manito Sandhills near Lloydminster. This case is approximately 120 miles south and a little east of the other cases. Over the past four years Saskatchewan Environment has tested approximately 5,500 animals from across the province.

Wisconsin DNR Law Enforcement has begin inspection of 590 captive deer facilities in that state. This is part of DNRs ongoing effort to control the spread of CWD. At each location, wardens will inspect the structural integrity of fences, visually inspect each deer and look at sales and purchase records. The 590 facilities to be inspected are those that are regulated by the DNR. There are an additional 400+ captive cervid facilities in the state regulated by the agriculture agency.

A fifth deer farm in Wisconsin has been placed under quarantine for receiving animals from one of the facilities that had white-tail deer test positive for CWD. Additionally, staff of Wisconsin DNR have been searching the area around the second farm to have an animal test positive for deer that reportedly escaped from that facility. Game Wardens have shot four deer that are suspected of escaping from the facility under quarantine. One of the animals shot had an ear tag.

Approximately 6,000 hunters in Wisconsin submitted deer heads for CWD testing after the first week of fall hunting. Officials estimate approximately 27,000 deer harvested during the same time period. License sales for this time period are down approximately 22% over the same time last year. In neighboring Minnesota, deer license sales are down about 10% from last years figures.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has set a goal of testing 6,000 deer this fall for CWD. They have initiated a public relations effort to get hunters to submit the heads of their harvested deer for the surveillance. Although the disease has not been confirmed in Missouri, Department biologists believe it is necessary to conduct surveillance to detect the disease if it is present in the free-ranging deer population of the state.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have announced that they will test 500 deer during the fall firearms season this year. Their hope is to find nothing but are laying plans for the collection of a small number of animals this year and for larger numbers in the years to come. They are concerned due to the fact that 44 deer from a game farm in Minnesota were allowed into the state by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry last year. Of these imported animals, 15 had died from natural causes, 20 were killed and tested for CWD and 9 are awaiting euthanasia and testing. All tests to date have not detected CWD.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will conduct surveillance for CWD for the first time this fall. They plan on testing 700 deer from the hunting season. CWD has not been detected in Maine but officials want to test animals to be sure it does not occur there. Additionally, they will be distributing informational pamphlets on CWD and asking hunters and others to report any sick looking deer for additional investigation.

Wisconsin DNR has announced that they are preparing an Environmental Impact Statement on proposed rules for managing CWD in their state. The EIS will apply to free-ranging cervids only. The proposed permanent rule to address CWD will be of considerable magnitude and scope and given the far-reaching environmental and socio-economic factors, it is necessary to prepare an EIS according to Kurt Thiede, regulation policy specialist with the DNR. The EIS will address several factors, including; extended deer seasons, earn-a-buck hunt requirements, special registration requirements, baiting and recreational feeding and use of aircraft to assist in reducing deer population numbers. Target date for the first draft is February 14, 2003.

A Walworth County, Wisconsin deer farmer whose farm has been quarantined because of the finding of CWD on his farm is under investigation for illegally buying and selling deer. A search warrant filed in Dane County alleges that the farmer sold several earlier this year without a license to do so, that he sold deer to individuals not licensed to buy them, attempted to get people he purchased deer from to remove the required identification tags, asked other sellers to alter records and attempted to sell deer after his facility had been placed under a quarantine.