AGFC continues to test deer for Chronic Wasting Disease

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:41 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:42 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - As we enter the second week of modern gun season, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission continue to mitigate the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in the state.

CWD is found in white-tailed deer and elk in Arkansas and is deadly in animals that are infected.

The disease has mainly been concentrated in Northwest Arkansas, but a case in Independence County had led to the expansion of the CWD management zone into Jackson County.

State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Ballard said the reason for the expansion into Jackson County was due to the proximity of the infected deer to the Jackson County line.

“We have two criteria for including counties in the zone. One is that detect a case of Chronic Wasting Disease in a deer from that county, and that occurred in Independence County last year,” Ballard said. “The other criteria is that we detected a case within 10 miles of the county border which is the case for both Jackson and Stone counties.”

To help mitigate the disease, 100 testing drop-off locations are located around the state with at least one location in each county. Officials say 53 taxidermists are also helping AGFC with sample collection.

Ballard said all they need is the head of the deer for the test.

“We just need the head of the animal with a few inches of neck attached and we will collect a lymph node that sort of sits at the base of the head, and we will send that to the lab for testing,” Ballard said.

At the collection sites, hunters will find a bag to place the head of the deer in. If you have a buck, you are asked to take the antlers off. There is also a label that you will put contact information on and you are set.

The collection is free and voluntary, but Ballard said they are needing hunters to help mitigate the disease.

Test results will be posted through a secure system on the AGFC’s website.

She said the disease can survive in its environment for a long time and if a hunter moves a CWD positive carcass to a new area, it can potentially cause a new outbreak in that new area.

“And so we are relying on the participation of our hunters, both for surveillance and helping us contain this disease and to minimize the effect that it can have on our population as the disease prevalence goes up,” Ballard said.

Annually, the AGFC has anywhere between 6,000 and 7,000 samples submitted a year.

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