Lincoln, Neb. – As the November firearm deer season draws nearer, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is telling hunters they will again play a vital role in monitoring the states deer herd for the presence of chronic wasting disease, or CWD.

Bruce Morrison, the Commission biologist heading the disease monitoring efforts, said hunters again will be asked to voluntarily submit lymph nodes from harvested deer when they visit check stations in the states 19 management units. Removal of the samples takes only a few minutes.

To date, CWD has not been found outside the Panhandles three deer management units, the Upper Platte, Plains and Pine Ridge units. The most intense monitoring efforts in 2004 will be targeted at those three units, with biologists accepting as many samples as they can get.

In the Sandhills, Platte and Frenchman units, bordering the Panhandle, biologists hope to collect 383 samples per unit for testing. In each of the remaining deer units, the goal is to collect 100 samples.

Morrison said it is helpful if hunters are able to provide very specific locations of where deer are harvested. This allows biologists to collect samples for varying points in each management unit, thereby providing a representative sample of the unit.

Hunters donating samples will be notified of test results.

Last year, biologists collected more than 4,900 samples during the deer seasons. Thirteen of those were positive, all from the Panhandle.