Chronic Wasting Disease has come to Ste. Genevieve County.
The Missouri Department of Conservation issued a news release Tuesday detailing its preliminary findings from its mandatory Chronic Wasting Disease testing sites during the opening weekend of firearms deer season in November.
According to the release, testing revealed 15 new cases of CWD out of nearly 18,400 test results received so far.
Among the positive results were two in Ste. Genevieve County.
According to Perry County conservation agent Chris Doran, the two deer, an adult buck and an adult doe, were both killed by hunters near St. Mary, located very near the Perry County line.
“I don’t know all the specifics, but they were killed just north of Hwy. J,” Doran said.
The other 13 positive tests included four adult bucks from Linn County; three from Franklin County; an adult buck and an adult doe from Macon County; and one adult buck each from Cedar, Jefferson, Polk and St. Clair counties.
CWD is a deadly illness in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, called cervids. CWD kills all deer and other cervids it infects. There is no vaccination against the disease and no treatment or cure for infected animals.
According to the MDC, mandatory sampling is proving to be critically important in finding new cases in new areas, and additional testing and thinning of deer in the immediate areas where cases are found is helping to limit the spread of the disease.
The 18,400 test results MDC has received so far include nearly 16,000 samples collected from hunter-harvested deer during MDC’s CWD mandatory sampling efforts Nov. 11 and 12. Results also include about 2,400 tissue samples collected for CWD testing throughout the state over several months before the mandatory sampling weekend.
“We could not accomplish this very important work without the help of the many thousands of hunters and hundreds of landowners around Missouri who brought in their deer for CWD testing to help find and limit the spread of this terrible disease,” said MDC Director Sara Pauley in the release.
With two reported cases located so near the county line, Doran advised Perry County hunters to keep an eye out.
“Deer have a pretty good size range,” Doran said, “especially when the rut is on and the males are going great distances to find females. Being that close to Perry County and with what we know of the disease and how it spreads from deer to deer, I think it would be naive to think that [an infected deer hasn’t crossed into Perry County yet and infected something else.”
Doran said that, in the past, when infected deer have been discovered, the MDC, with the cooperation of local landowners, performed a culling operation within a several-mile radius of that location.
The idea, Doran said, is to get a better idea of how many deer are infected in that area and to get ahead of the problem.
“The direction we want to go in right now is to stay ahead of it,” Doran said. “There’s definitely cause for concern, but we’re going to do the best we can.”
There are still four days left in archery deer season and some hunters may still be out in the woods.
“If they see something that looks strange in a deer,” Doran said, “emaciation, real lethargic, not acting the same as a deer would, contact us. If they harvest it and want to get it tested, they can go to the Perryville Forestry office or the [Cape Girardeau] office and they’ll collect the samples.
“If they harvest something in that neck of the woods, definitely give us a call and we’ll get the sample taken.”
The MDC’s Perryville office is located at 2206 W. St. Joseph St. and can be reached by phone at (573) 547-4537.
The MDC will also continue to receive tissue samples for CWD testing from taxidermists, road-killed and sick deer, and hunter-killed submissions. MDC will also collect additional tissue samples for CWD testing through March from areas immediately around where new and recent cases of CWD have been found.
The Department will share final results in April once all testing has been completed.
Hunters who have had tissue samples collected for CWD testing from their harvested deer can get test results for their deer, as they become available, at mdc.mo.gov/CWDTestResults. MDC personally notifies all hunters that have positive test results for their deer.
The MDC’s mandatory testing program incorporated 25 selected counties in its 41-county CWD management zone, including St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties.
According to the release, there have been no deer found in Missouri counties along the Missouri-Arkansas border, despite the fact that CWD has been found in several hundred deer in northern Arkansas.
For the third year in a row, the MDC also reported no additional cases in central Missouri, where a single case of CWD was confirmed in Cole County in early 2015.
According to MDC, the low number of CWD cases found in new counties (Cedar, Polk, and Ste. Genevieve) suggests the disease was recently introduced to these areas.
For more information on samples submitted for testing, results received and pending, and cases of CWD in Missouri, go online to mdc.mo.gov/cwd under “CWD in Missouri.”