LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Bad news continues to roll in from north Arkansas amid the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's efforts to find the prevalence rate of chronic wasting disease in the area where the disease initially was detected. Results from last week's tests revealed an additional 18 deer and a single elk with the disease.
Last week, tissue samples from 49 deer and elk taken in and around the 125,000-acre focal area were sent to the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison for testing. Out of the 18 positive deer samples, four were found just outside of the AGFC's focal area. Those deer were either found dead or were killed by vehicles. The single cow elk was taken from the Boxley Valley area of Newton County.
Arkansas now has 22 CWD positive samples from the state's deer and elk. Before today's lab results, two deer and an elk had tested positive for the fatal disease. All three of those initially tested cervids came from within Newton County. Today's test results included 17 positive samples from Newton County and two deer from Boone County.
The first animal in Arkansas confirmed to have CWD was a 2½-year-old female elk. The elk was killed by a hunter Oct. 6 on the Buffalo National River near Pruitt during elk season. The disease was confirmed on Feb. 23.
As of today, more than 260 deer and 18 elk have been taken for sampling. Another large batch of samples is currently at the Wisconsin lab with results expected late next week.
The AGFC will continue its efforts to sample elk that appear to be sick from throughout the known elk range. Due to the large number of positive samples, including samples outside the established focal area, emphasis will be placed on collecting samples from road-killed deer and sick or dead deer throughout northwest Arkansas in order to determine the extent of the disease's distribution.
The latest test results were a blow to AGFC Chief of Wildlife Management Brad Carner. "This is not good news. We were hopeful that all positive samples would be contained within our focal area. That's obviously not the case," he said. "We also hoped to find a low prevalence rate in the test samples. We're disappointed, but still focused on the job at hand," Carner noted.
Landowners continue to be very helpful in allowing the AGFC access to their property, Carner says. "Much of the land within the zone where the agency is working is privately owned. We continue to ask for their help and help from anyone who sees a deer or elk that appears to be ill."
The public can report sick deer and elk by calling 800-482-9262 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, 24 hours a day.
Although there are no confirmed cases of CWD transmission from cervids to humans or to livestock, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Arkansas Department of Health recommend that people not consume meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.
The AGFC is holding weekly public meetings in Jasper at Carroll Electric, 511 E Court St. The next meetings will be held March 24, 31 and April 7 beginning at 11 a.m.