PIERRE, S.D.–Of 2,509 animals tested in South Dakota since July 1, 2006, three elk and seven deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The majority of elk and deer samples were from the Black Hills and prairie hunting units found in Fall River, Custer and eastern Pennington counties of western South Dakota. Most samples were taken from hunter-harvested animals.

In the last round of testing, the state’s chronic wasting disease program was expanded to include Grant and Deuel counties due to a CWD-infected white-tailed deer being discovered at a captive facility in Minnesota.

There were 134 samples taken in Grant County and 117 samples taken in Deuel County. No deer tested positive for the disease in eastern South Dakota. Other tests in eastern South Dakota—in 2001-2003 in McPherson County and in 2003 in Deuel County—were also negative for CWD.

As of Jan. 31, all of the 2,509 samples taken since July 1, 2006, have been tested at the South Dakota State University Diagnostic Lab.

The animals tested included 502 elk, 605 mule deer and 1,312 white-tailed deer. Of the animals tested, there were three elk and seven deer that tested positive for CWD. All of those animals that tested positive were hunter harvested. They included:

  1. Elk female from Unit H3A in Custer County.
  2. Elk female from Custer State Park Unit CU2.
  3. Mule deer male from Fall River County Unit 27A.
  4. White-tailed deer male from Fall River County Unit 27B.
  5. White-tailed deer male from Fall River County Unit 27B.
  6. White-tailed deer female from Pennington County Unit 21A.
  7. Mule deer male from Fall River County Unit 27B.
  8. Mule deer male from Pennington County Unit 21B.
  9. Mule deer male from Custer County Unit BH1.
  10. Elk female from Custer State Park Unit CU1.

To date, South Dakota has found 57 cases of CWD (39 deer and 18 elk) in free ranging-deer and elk since testing began in 1997. All of the deer and elk that tested positive for CWD have been located in the Black Hills or southwestern South Dakota. Wind Cave National Park accounts for 16 of these animals (eight elk, eight deer). Custer State Park has had three elk test positive for CWD in the past two years. A total of 14,814 wild deer and elk have been tested for CWD since 1997.

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

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