PIERRE, S.D. – Two deer have tested positive in South Dakota’s 2005 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Program.

The Department of Game, Fish and Parks has been testing deer and elk from hunters, vehicle kills and sick animals encountered in the field. Currently, 595 results have returned from the 820 total samples submitted, with two deer testing positive for CWD.

“The two deer that tested positive were both collected by Game Fish and Parks personnel that are on the watch for sick deer and elk,” said Game, Fish and Parks Wildlife Biologist Steve Griffin of Rapid City. “Both of these deer were found very emaciated and thin, which are symptoms of CWD.

Griffin noted that Black Hills deer hunters and West River prairie deer hunters in predetermined surveillance areas will have an opportunity to participate in the CWD Surveillance Program as their respective seasons open this fall.

As in past years, 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 the 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 as soon as possible after the results are delivered to him. “We try and get them out on a weekly basis if possible,” he said.

Hunters outside the testing area may get their animal tested for chronic wasting disease by making their own arrangements directly through the SDSU Diagnostic Lab at (605) 688-5171.

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