North Dakota deer and elk populations remain free of chronic wasting disease, according to test results recently received by the state Game and Fish Department.

Last fall, North Dakota hunters submitted samples for testing from 2,993 wild deer, 37 elk and four moose collected during the 2006 hunting season. All those samples tested negative, said Erika Butler, Game and Fish Department wildlife veterinarian.

Samples for CWD testing were sent to the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab last December. “We are always hopeful that this will be the outcome,” Butler said. “We will continue to be aggressive. In addition to testing any suspect animals throughout the year, we plan to continue our hunter-harvest surveillance in the fall.”

Samples in 2006 were collected from hunter-harvested deer taken from all deer hunting units in the state. “Our volunteer cooperation is overwhelming,” Butler said. “We couldn’t achieve our goals without their help. Hunters, meat processors, taxidermists, and the assistance from other agencies are vital in this process.”

Since 2002, nearly 8,500 North Dakota deer and 147 elk have tested negative for CWD. To date, CWD has not been diagnosed in wild or farmed deer or elk in North Dakota.

Chronic wasting disease affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.