Preliminary test results have detected the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) agent in five hunter-harvested deer collected in Hampshire County during the 2007 deer firearms hunting season. “As part of our agency’s ongoing and intensive CWD surveillance effort, samples were collected from 1,285 hunter-harvested deer brought to game checking stations in Hampshire County,” noted Frank Jezioro, Director for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). The five CWD positive deer included one 2.5 year-old doe, two 2.5 year-old bucks, one 3.5 year-old buck, and one 4.5 year-old buck. Four of the five deer were harvested within the Hampshire County CWD Containment Area (i.e., that portion of Hampshire County located North of U.S. Route 50). The fifth deer was also harvested in Hampshire County, but it was killed outside the CWD Containment Area near Yellow Springs, West Virginia.
CWD has now been detected in a total of 19 deer in Hampshire County (i.e., one road-killed deer confirmed in 2005, four deer collected by the DNR in 2005, five deer collected by the DNR in 2006, one hunter-harvest deer taken during the 2006 deer season, three deer collected by the DNR in 2007 and five hunter-harvested deer taken during the 2007 deer season). Operating within guidelines established by its CWD – Incident Response Plan, the DNR has taken the steps necessary to implement appropriate management actions designed to control the spread of this disease, prevent further introduction of the disease, and possibly eliminate the disease from the state.
The following disease management actions have been implemented by the DNR within Hampshire County.
- Continue CWD surveillance efforts designed to determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease.
- Lower deer population level to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer by implementing appropriate antlerless deer hunting regulations designed to increase hunter opportunity to harvest female deer;
- Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate deer carcass transport restrictions designed to lower the risk of moving the disease to other locations;
- Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate regulations relating to the feeding and baiting of deer within the affected area to reduce the risk of spreading of the disease from deer to deer.
“Landowner and hunter cooperation throughout this entire CWD surveillance effort in Hampshire County has been fantastic,” Jezioro noted. “As we strive to meet this wildlife disease challenge and implement appropriate management strategies, the continued support and involvement of landowners and hunters will be essential. The DNR remains committed to keeping the public informed and involved in these wildlife disease management actions.”
CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and it belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is thought to be caused by abnormal, proteinaceous particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and invariably results in the death of the infected animal. There is no known treatment for CWD, and it is fatal for the infected deer or elk. It is important to note that currently there is no evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.
“Our well trained and professional wildlife biologists, wildlife managers and conservation officers are working diligently to fully implement the DNR’s CWD – Incident Response Plan, which is designed to effectively address this wildlife disease threat,” said Jezioro. “Hunters, landowners and other members of the public should feel confident that we have some of the best wildlife biologists and veterinarians in the world, including those stationed at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia, working collaboratively on this situation.”