AUGUSTA, Maine – The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has received good news from the University of Connecticut Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. All 909 white-tailed deer tissue samples submitted for testing came back negative for Chronic Wasting Disease. At this time, there is no evidence of CWD found in Maine’s wild deer herd.
“We have worked diligently to monitor Maine’s deer herd, and we are pleased to see that Chronic Wasting Disease has yet to appear in Maine,”said Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
2006 marks the fourth year that Maine has used a stratified sampling strategy to test Maine’s white-tailed deer population. This strategy assumes that there is a higher risk for wild deer in towns where domestic deer farms or winter feeding of deer in large congregations occur. Collections of tissues (brain and lymph nodes) from hunter-harvested deer are sampled in proportion to deer densities across the state. Wildlife biologists collect these samples during the November firearms season. These provide the best opportunity to test deer for CWD.
Maine has been monitoring Chronic Wasting Disease in wild deer since 1999. Over the last six years the level of sampling has intensified due to the distribution of domestic deer farms and winter feeding sites where people feed deer. More samples are necessary in order to provide a satisfactory level of confidence in monitoring wild deer across the entire state. Our ability to fully sample all the towns defined by our surveillance strategy is dependent on cooperation from deer hunters and meat cutters.
“We have been fortunate to have a number of people assist us in this endeavor and are grateful for their help,” said Lee Kantar, Deer Biologist for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “2006 was one of the most productive years for attaining our sampling goals. We achieved 91% of the samples that we needed. In the western mountains of Maine, 100% of the samples were collected.”
In 2007, IFW will continue to monitor wild deer across the state and improve ways to locate and collect hard-to-get samples from towns with low deer densities and low deer harvests.