PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota’s 2004 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Program has more than 800 samples returned as of Nov. 30, and none have yet tested positive.

“The Department of Game, Fish and Parks has been testing deer and elk from youth hunters, elk hunters, Black Hills deer hunters, and some West River Prairie hunters,” said GFP Wildlife Biologist Steve Griffin of Rapid City. “Out of 2,001 samples collected, results on 817 have been received, and as of Nov. 30, no positive CWD animals have been found.” He added that many samples are still pending.

The breakdown of sampling is as follows:

  • 478 elk sampled, 476 samples returned, two samples pending,
  • 519 mule deer sampled, 83 results returned, 436 samples pending,
  • 1,004 white-tailed deer sampled, 258 results returned, 746 samples pending.

As in past years, the GFP is conducting a CWD surveillance program in areas where CWD has been detected in captive animals, and/or in wild free-roaming populations of deer and elk. Surveillance is being concentrated in the southwestern part of South Dakota, which includes Fall River County, Custer County, parts of Pennington County and the Black Hills.

“The samples are being collected from hunters who were contacted prior to hunting seasons and asked to voluntarily submit heads of their harvested animals for testing,” Griffin said. “This year’s samples are being sent to the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Diagnostic Laboratory in Brookings, and results are getting returned faster than in the past.”

Griffin noted that all hunters who submitted a sample will receive a letter with the results of the CWD test very soon after the results are delivered to him.

“We try and get them out on a weekly basis if possible,” he said.

For questions regarding the South Dakota CWD Surveillance Program, call the Rapid City Regional GFP Office at (605) 394-2391.

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