Additional samples taken to monitor chronic wasting disease prevalance

ST. FRANCIS – Kansas Department Wildlife and Parks staff collected a total of 51 deer in Cheyenne County this week, in follow-up sampling after chronic wasting disease was detected in a whitetail doe taken during the 2005 firearms deer season.

The 51 deer – 30 mule deer and 21 whitetails – were taken within a 15-mile radius of the location where a Cheyenne County hunter shot the whitetail doe which tested positive for CWD. KDWP staff gathered in St. Francis Feb. 13th to begin the sampling effort. Their objective was to collect 50 deer and extract brain and lymphatic tissues for lab analysis, to determine if other deer in the vicinity have the disease. Global positioning system (GPS) coordinates were entered to pinpoint the location where each of the 51 deer were taken.

“We were pleased with the the way things went,” said Steve Price, KDWP’s Fisheries & Wildlife Division regional supervisor. Price and Lloyd Fox, KDWP’s big game project leader, coordinated the sampling effort. Twenty KDWP staff completed the collection of deer by about 12 a.m. Feb. 15th. Two of the 51 animals collected were taken on St. Francis Wildlife Area, a 480-acre public wildlife area located southwest of St. Francis; all others were taken on private land in Cheyenne County.

“We very much appreciate the cooperation and assistance of the landowners and citizens of Cheyenne County,” Price said. About 85 percent of landowners contacted agreed to provide access to their properties by KDWP staff, who were divided into three crews for the collection process.

Tissue samples extracted from the deer at a field lab have been transported to Kansas State University for analysis. KDWP officials hope to have lab results completed within a week, and will announce those results as soon as they are available.

The department has collected tissue samples from hunter harvested deer since 1996, to help monitor any occurrence of chronic wasting disease. The Cheyenne County deer which tested positive for the disease was one of almost 2,000 tested, brought in by hunters around the state during the recent deer season. All of those samples from the 2005 season have been analyzed, and no additional occurrences of chronic wasting disease were found.

CWD has been documented in 10 states, including the neighboring states of Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

CWD attacks the central nervous system of infected animals and is within a group of similar diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE). While CWD can spread among deer and elk, it is not known to transmit to humans, livestock or other animals. Additional information on CWD is also available on the internet at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website.

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