LINCOLN, Neb. – More than 3,200 hunter-harvested deer and 44 elk were tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) this fall, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
“A total of 17 deer tested positive for the disease, and all but three of the positive tests were from deer harvested within the endemic area in the Panhandle,” said Bruce Trindle, Commission wildlife disease specialist. “ None of the elk tested positive.”
The deer were taken during the November firearm season. Elk season ended Oct. 28 for all units except Boyd.
CWD is a disease that can affect deer and elk and is always fatal to the affected animal. Humans have never been known to contract CWD.
The three deer that tested positive outside the Panhandle were white-tailed deer. A firearm hunter in Keith County shot one of the afflicted deer a few miles west of Ogallala on the South Platte River. The second was shot in Red Willow County on the Beaver Creek drainage near the Kansas border, and the third positive was harvested in Hall County a few miles south of Alda.
Biologists will sample more deer from the areas where the disease had not previously been detected. Additional samples will help indicate the prevalence of CWD within those immediate harvest locations.
“The prevalence of CWD in deer tested over the past three years has been less than one percent, and the distribution of the disease has expanded very slowly,” Trindle said.
The Commission confirmed CWD in the states deer population in 2000. To date, there have been 133 free-ranging deer that tested positive for CWD through the Commissions surveillance program, which has sampled more than 33,000 deer.
CWD has never been detected in the Nebraska wild elk population.
The Commission plans on continuing its diligent testing of Nebraskas deer herds for this disease.