Preliminary test results have detected the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) agent in one hunter-harvested deer collected in Hampshire County during the 2006 deer hunting season. “As part of our agency’s ongoing and intensive CWD surveillance effort, samples were collected from 1,355 hunter-harvested deer brought to game checking stations in Hampshire County,” according to Frank Jezioro, Director for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources ( DNR). “This most recent positive CWD sample was taken from a 2½-year-old buck harvested during the firearms deer season, and the deer was located within close proximity to the 9 positive cases previously detected in Hampshire County.”
CWD has now been detected in a total of 10 deer in Hampshire County (i.e., one road-killed deer, four deer collected by the DNR in 2005, four deer collected by the DNR in 2006 and one hunter-harvested deer during the 2006 deer season). “Our analysis of this CWD surveillance data indicates the disease appears to be found in a relatively small geographical area located near Slanesville, West Virginia,” noted DNR Director Frank Jezioro. “From a wildlife disease management perspective, we consider this to be encouraging news. Based upon these CWD surveillance findings, we are taking the steps necessary to implement appropriate management actions designed to control the spread of this disease, prevent further introduction of the disease, and possibly eliminate the disease from the state,” Jezioro said.
The following disease management options have been evaluated and implemented by the DNR within the affected area of Hampshire County:
- Continue CWD surveillance efforts designed to determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease;
- Lower deer population levels to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer by implementing appropriate antlerless deer hunting regulations designed to increase hunter opportunity to harvest female deer;
- Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate deer carcass transport restrictions designed to lower the risk of moving the disease to other locations;
- Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate regulations relating to the feeding and baiting of deer within the affected area to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer.
“Landowner and hunter cooperation throughout this entire CWD surveillance effort in Hampshire County has been just terrific,” Jezioro noted. “As we strive to meet this wildlife disease challenge and implement appropriate management strategies, the support and involvement of landowners and hunters will continue to be essential. The DNR remains committed to keeping the public informed and involved in these wildlife disease management actions.”
CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and it belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is thought to be caused by abnormal, proteinaceous particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of infected deer and elk, causing the animals to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and invariably results in the death of the infected animal. There is no known treatment for CWD, and it is fatal for the infected deer or elk. It is important to note that currently there is no evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.
“Our well-trained and professional wildlife biologists, wildlife managers and conservation officers are working diligently to fully implement the DNR ’s CWD – Incident Response Plan, which is designed to effectively address this wildlife disease threat,” said Jezioro. “Hunters, landowners and other members of the public should feel confident that we have some of the best wildlife biologists and veterinarians in the world, including those stationed at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens , Georgia , working collaboratively on this situation.”