PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental reports that recent testing for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer in Rhode Island has not detected the presence of the disease. Nearly 200 samples from Rhode Island’s deer herd were collected last fall and winter by DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife for testing as part of a nationwide effort to monitor the spread of CWD. The tests were conducted by the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
“This is very good news,” says Michael Lapisky, Acting Chief of DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, “as CWD has been detected in some Eastern states such as New York and West Virginia.”
CWD is a progressive neurological disease that is fatal to deer and elk. It is not known to pose any risk to people or animals other than cervids. In addition to New York and West Virginia, the disease has been found in wild deer and elk in limited areas of Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Kansas, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It has also been identified in farmed elk in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Kansas, and in Canada on Saskatchewan and Alberta farms.
DEM is using several tools to prevent the introduction and spread of CWD in Rhode Island. The Division of Fish and Wildlife will continue to conduct surveillance, with the assistance of the state’s hunters who donate deer heads for testing. The Division also tests a portion of road-killed deer, as well as deer that are reported as sickly looking. DEM also prohibits, via regulation, the importation of deer and elk and certain of their parts from states where CWD has been found, as well as from areas bordering those states.
A brochure on Chronic Wasting Disease can be found on DEM’s website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on “Publications”, then selecting Chronic Wasting Disease under “Brochures/Fact Sheets”. The state’s regulations regarding CWD can also be found on the DEM website by clicking on “Regulations”, then “Fish and Wildlife”, then “Rules and Regulations Governing the Importation, Feeding, and Baiting of Cervids in Rhode Island”.
For additional information on Chronic Wasting Disease, visit the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website at www.cwd-info.org.