PIERRE, S.D.–Some hunters who drew West River deer hunting licenses will play a special role in the state’s effort to track chronic wasting disease.

West River deer season surveillance units for CWD have been established in Units 21A, 21B, 27A and 27B, located in Fall River and Custer counties and parts of central Pennington County.

Hunters with deer licenses for the surveillance units will be contacted with information about drop-off locations and testing procedures. Hunters who submit a deer or elk head for testing will be notified of the test results.

CWD is a fatal brain disease found in both captive and free-ranging elk and deer. In its late stages, animals with CWD become emaciated, behave abnormally, lose control of muscles and other bodily functions and die.

Since 1997, more than 12,300 deer and elk have been tested for CWD in South Dakota. Of those animals, 32 deer and 15 elk tested positive for the disease.

For more information about the CWD surveillance program, contact the GFP Regional Office in Rapid City at (605) 394-2391 or visit the department’s Web site at www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/hunting/BigGame/CWD.htm.