PIERRE – The Department of Game, Fish and Parks has reported that a positive test result for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a disease that affects deer and elk, has been received for a Black Hills deer.
The positive test was returned on a 2-1/2 year old whitetail buck deer that was struck and killed in late September by a vehicle inside the Rapid City city limits. The deer was collected and immediately submitted for testing. The results were just returned.
“This is the first positive test we have received from Game, Fish and Parks efforts to sample deer and elk this fall to determine the occurrence of CWD in South Dakota,” Ron Fowler, GF&P Game Program Administrator, said. “To date this fall we have submitted 1,600 deer and elk specimens for testing and have the results on 150 so far.”
Fowler said the positive test in Rapid City was not expected, but is why there have been efforts to collect deer and elk throughout the area. “We have been very thorough and very deliberate in our approach to CWD. We have response plans ready to put in place, but we must know where it is occurring and what the prevalence rate is before we know which plan might be most effective in managing CWD in South Dakota. We will know more when tests on the animals we have submitted are returned.”
“Again, I stress that this is the first positive test that has been returned this fall,” Fowler said. “Our staff has fielded rumors of CWD-positive deer in other parts of the state this fall. There is no substance to these reports. If and when we receive confirmation of a positive CWD test result, we will notify the public immediately.”
Of the 1,600 animals collected so far, 472 were elk, 657 were whitetail deer and 471 were mule deer. Hunters submitted most of these animals. “We will move forward with more testing within Rapid City in the next few weeks. When we have results from these tests we will have a better idea of CWD occurrence in the area.”
Because of the volume of work being submitted to the limited number of laboratories that test for CWD, it may take three months or more to receive results. “Our goal is to have test results in 90 days,” Fowler said. “It may take less time or a little longer depending on the work load at these laboratories.”
Fowler said that all hunters who voluntarily submitted heads from deer and elk for CWD testing will be notified by postcard when results are returned. “For some hunters, it may be early March before we hear results. Please be patient and know that we will get you results as soon as we know,” Fowler said.
CWD is a disease that affects both deer and elk. Research conducted by scientists and public health officials has turned up no evidence that the disease can be spread to humans or any other species except deer and elk. This is the third positive test for a free-roaming or wild animal in South Dakota. Last year a deer in the southwest part of the state had a positive test, and recently an elk in Wind Cave National Park tested positive.