LITTLE ROCK – A deer killed in Colorado and brought to Arkansas for processing has been confirmed to have chronic wasting disease. The Arkansas hunter left a portion of the deer’s brain and spine in Colorado to be tested by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
The results of that test were not known until after the deer was brought into Arkansas and left at the processing plant. As soon as Colorado authorities notified the hunter, he contacted the United States Fish and Wildlife Service who in turn contacted the AGFC. It was later discovered that the deer had already been processed when word came that it was infected.
Employees of the AGFC and the Livestock and Poultry Commission immediately contacted the processor to remove the deer meat. The meat was later incinerated.
Donny Harris, AGFC chief of wildlife management and the chairman of a statewide CWD task force, said that at no time was the public at any risk from the disease. “There is no connection between CWD and a health risk to humans. We were just being overly cautious when we had the meat destroyed,” Harris said.
The AGFC recently made permanent an emergency prohibition on the importation of live deer and elk into Arkansas. The ban does not include importation of harvested deer from other states.
The live animal ban was a result of concerns that captive wildlife populations may spread the devastating disease. No cases of the disease have been reported in Arkansas, but outbreaks have been reported in various parts of the country. The introduction and outbreak of CWD in other states have reportedly come from privately acquired elk and deer.
Chronic wasting disease is usually lethal to deer and elk. With CWD, the animal’s immune system is unable to fight off the disease, and the animal deteriorates or “wastes,” until death.
AGFC officials said although CWD is not known to be present anywhere in Arkansas, persons who find deer or elk dead from no apparent cause, like trauma, should immediately call the nearest AGFC office or personnel to report it. Reports can be made to the AGFC hotline, 1-800-482-9262.