Preliminary test results indicate the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) agent was present in five hunter-harvested deer collected in Hampshire County during the 2008 deer firearms hunting season.

“As part of our agency’s ongoing and intensive CWD monitoring effort, samples were collected from 1,355 hunter-harvested deer brought to game checking stations in Hampshire County and one station near the southern Hampshire County line in Hardy County,” noted Frank Jezioro, director for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR).

The five CWD positive deer included one 4.5 year-old doe, two 2.5 year-old bucks, one 4.5 year-old buck and one 1.5 year-old buck. All five of the latest positive deer were harvested within the Hampshire County CWD Containment Area (i.e., that portion of Hampshire County located North of U.S. Route 50). However, the CWD agent previously has been detected outside the containment area but still within Hampshire County. The area in Hampshire County appears to continue to expand as one of the most recent infected deer was approximately five miles northeast of any previous known infected deer location.

CWD has now been detected in a total of 37 deer in Hampshire County (i.e., two road-killed deer – one in 2005 and one in 2008, four deer collected by the DNR in 2005, five deer collected by the DNR in 2006, one hunter-harvest deer taken during the 2006 deer season, three deer collected by the DNR in 2007, six hunter-harvested deer taken during the 2007 deer season, 11 deer collected by the DNR in 2008, and five hunter-harvested deer taken during the 2008 deer season). The DNR will continue to update management actions designed to control the spread of this disease, prevent further introduction of the disease, and possibly eliminate the disease from the state as information from deer testing within West Virginia is gathered and scientists across the country provide more information on how to combat CWD in white-tailed deer.

Thus far the following disease management actions have been implemented by the DNR within Hampshire County.

  • CWD testing efforts designed to determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease.
  • Deer population management 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 of the disease from deer to deer.

“Landowner and hunter cooperation throughout this entire CWD monitoring and management effort in Hampshire County has been fantastic,” Jezioro noted. “As we strive to meet this wildlife disease challenge and implement appropriate management strategies, the continued support and involvement of landowners and hunters will 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 effectively address this wildlife disease threat, and we are collaborating with nationally recognized wildlife disease experts at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, GA” Jezioro said.

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