The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has found no signs of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Florida’s deer herd.

The FWC tested 676 free-ranging deer, and the Florida Department of Agriculture tested 14 captive deer for CWD in Florida during 2002-2003. No deer tested positive for CWD.

CWD is a progressive, neurological, debilitating and fatal disease that belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Scientists believed the disease to be caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. CWD has been diagnosed in mule deer, white-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk in captive herds and in the wild in some midwestern and western states. Other cervids (antlered animals) may also be susceptible.

The FWC has a comprehensive monitoring program to make sure CWD is not already in Florida and that the disease does not spread to the state. The agency is asking the general public to keep be alert for deer showing symptoms indicative of CWD.

If you see a sickly, extremely skinny deer, report its location to the nearest FWC regional office. If you harvest such a deer, do not handle it but call an FWC regional office.

During 2003-2004, the agency plans on testing 500 deer throughout the state for CWD.