AUGUSTA, Maine – Maine’s wild deer herd shows no signs of Chronic Wasting Disease. This past year, biologists from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife sampled 819 brain tissues from deer harvested throughout Maine during the 2005 hunting season.

“Testing results indicate there is no evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease in Maine’s deer population. That is good news for all of us,” announced Roland D. Martin, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

The tissue samples were sent to a federal laboratory in Connecticut where they were tested for the disease. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal disease of the nervous system of deer, elk, and moose. The disease belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

Currently, CWD is known to infect free-ranging deer and elk in portions of Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Saskatchewan, Canada. In addition, CWD has been found in captive/farmed elk or white-tailed deer herds in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Free-ranging moose have been detected with CWD in Colorado.

Each year, IFW biologists examine 6,000 to 8,000 hunter-killed deer and 2,000 to 2,500 moose for management purposes. While conducting other fieldwork, wildlife biologists observe hundreds of live deer during a typical year. In addition, biologists respond to hunters who contact us when they kill apparently ill or injured individuals. To date, IFW biologists have not observed symptoms consistent with CWD in Maine.

No sick animals that fit the clinical profile for CWD have ever been brought to the attention of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) or private veterinarians from among Maine’s licensed deer farms. Since autumn of 2001, more than 1,900 farmed-raised elk and deer slaughtered in Maine have been tested for CWD. To date, all tests have been negative for CWD.

The Departments have been working together to develop a Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance program for both captive and wild deer herds and they are coordinating efforts to prevent CWD from entering the state. They are also working closely with other states, the federal government, and private organizations on various CWD-related topics.