PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s 2004 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Program is in full operation, and of the more than 650 samples collected, none have yet tested positive.

“The Department of Game, Fish and Parks has been testing deer and elk from youth hunters, elk hunters and Black Hills Deer hunters,” said GFP Wildlife Biologist Steve Griffin of Rapid City. “Out of 674 samples collected, results on 517 have been received, and as of Nov. 5, no positive CWD animals have been found.” Griffin noted that West River prairie deer hunters in predetermined surveillance areas will have an opportunity to participate when West River Deer seasons open on Nov. 13.

As in past years, the GFP is conducting a CWD surveillance program in areas where CWD has been detected in captive animals, and/or in wild free-roaming populations of deer and elk. Surveillance is being concentrated in the southwestern part of South Dakota, which includes Fall River County, Custer County, parts of Pennington County and the Black Hills.

“The samples are being collected from hunters who were contacted prior to hunting seasons and asked to voluntarily submit heads of their harvested animals for testing,” Griffin said. “This year’s samples are being sent to the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Diagnostic Laboratory in Brookings, and results are getting returned faster than in the past.”

Griffin noted that all hunters who submitted a sample will receive a letter with the results of the CWD test very soon after the results are delivered to him.

“We try and get them out on a weekly basis if possible,” he said.

For questions regarding the South Dakota CWD Surveillance Program, call the Rapid City Regional Office at (605) 394-2391