For the fourth year in a row chronic wasting disease was not discovered in the state’s wild deer herd.

“It’s certainly good news for deer and deer hunters,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Personnel took brain samples from 1,000 deer and elk harvested during the 2002-03 hunting season from 44 different counties.

“It is a good sample size from a large area of the state and we will continue to be vigilant in our surveillance program,” Shaw said.

CWD is an infectious disease of wild and captive elk and deer that results in progressive degeneration of the brain tissue in infected animals. First recognized in 1967, CWD is not a new disease and has been found in wild herds in limited areas of several western and northern states. There is no evidence that CWD has ever been transmitted to people, livestock or other kinds of animals.

Shaw added that whitetail deer provide a significant part of the rich hunting heritage in Oklahoma, as well as significant annual economic impact on the state. A recent survey showed the total economic impact from deer hunting in Oklahoma exceeded $600 million annually.