North Dakota’s 2004 Hunter-Harvested Surveillance program for chronic wasting disease is off to a good start.

So far, State Game and Fish Department personnel have taken samples for testing from more than 1,000 hunter-harvested deer, according to Jacquie Ermer, wildlife disease biologist, Riverdale.

“We received tremendous cooperation from hunters, meat processors, wildlife clubs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuges, and individuals at collection sites,” Ermer said. “In fact, we have already reached our goal in more than half of the deer hunting units from which we wanted samples.”

Even though the quota has been met in a number of units, the department is still seeking deer heads from units 1, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2K1, 2K2, 2L, 3A1, 3A2, 3A3, 3A4 and 3B1. “We are almost to our goal in these units,” Ermer said, “but we still need a couple hundred more heads.”

The goal of the Hunter-Harvested Surveillance program is to obtain a statistically significant sample (458) of animals in each of the eight surveillance units within a two-year period. “We have reached our goal in surveillance units 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8, which is basically the southern half of the state,” Ermer said. “All we have left is the northern tier.”