Nearly three months after the close of deer season, the Missouri Department of Conservation has reported seven positive cases of chronic wasting disease, also known as CWD, in Perry (1) and Ste. Genevieve (6) counties. CWD is a fatal illness among deer, and is reportedly spreading. Despite a lack in evidence that CWD is a risk to humans, public health officials advise against exposing yourself to it.
A total of 33 new cases have been found within Missouri. Matt Bowyer, wildlife regional supervisor for MDC’s Southeast region, says the disease was not known to be in those counties until last fall.
“The number that we found was surprising in that it was new to those counties, to Perry county and Ste. Genevieve county, especially,” says Bowyer. “But still the total number of deer we found there was relatively few out of the deer that were harvested.”
Four of these cases were discovered in deer harvested by hunters during last year’s fall firearms season, but three were found during target sampling post-deer season. Target sampling is a disease management tactic performed upon the discovery of CWD, during which MDC staff works with landowners to shoot additional deer in a small area upon where the disease was discovered. This rids of other deer that may also have CWD.
Bowyer says while this is a concern, the department has protocol in place, and is ready to take efforts in managing the disease.
The benefit of target sampling in those counties was the donation of 3,000 pounds of CWD-negative venison to local food pantries as part of MDC’s Share the Harvest program.
New regulations will be published in the next fall turkey and deer hunting season booklet later this summer. For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit: https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/wildlife-diseases/chronic-wasting-disease-cwd