JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) thanks the many deer hunters who participated in its mandatory sampling efforts in 34 counties this past weekend to test for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in harvested deer. Thanks to hunter participation, MDC collected tissue samples from more than 19,400 hunter-harvested deer for CWD testing on Nov. 12 and 13.
CWD sampling consists of MDC staff removing lymph nodes from the necks of harvested deer for testing. Tissue samples are sent to an independent lab for testing.
“We greatly appreciate the participation and support of the many thousands of hunters who presented their deer for CWD sampling during opening weekend,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle. “Hunters play a critical role in MDC’s efforts to find and manage CWD in Missouri.”
According to MDC, the opening weekend of the November portion of firearms deer season is the most popular two days for most deer hunters in Missouri. Hunters typically harvest between a quarter to a third of the state’s total annual deer harvest during those two days. Focusing on this key weekend gives MDC the best opportunity to collect the most tissue samples for CWD testing during a very concentrated time period.
“Finding CWD as early as possible in new areas allows for rapid management intervention to slow the spread of the disease,” Isabelle said. “The high number of samples collected during opening weekend gives us a much better understanding of the distribution and prevalence of the disease — where the disease is located and what percentage of the deer population is affected.”
Isabelle noted that MDC collects samples for CWD testing throughout the state each year and that mandatory sampling is an enhanced form of disease surveillance in the CWD Management Zone, where the greatest potential for new areas of CWD infection exists.
Including the recent sampling efforts, MDC has collected more than 237,000 tissue samples for CWD testing since surveillance for the disease began 20 years ago. To date, MDC has found 292 confirmed cases of CWD since the disease was first detected in wild deer in Missouri in 2012. Learn more about CWD surveillance at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.
MDC is also offering free voluntary CWD sampling and testing of harvested deer during the entire deer season at select locations throughout the state, including some MDC offices and participating taxidermists and meat processors.
MDC also offers self-service freezer drop-off locations within the CWD Management Zone for hunters to deposit harvested deer heads to have tested for CWD. Instructions, packing supplies, and information tags are available at the sites.
Get more information on voluntary sampling locations and drop-off locations online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.
Hunters can get their CWD test results for free online at mdc.mo.gov/cwdResults. Results are available within four weeks from the time of sampling and the wait time if often much less.
According to MDC, white-tailed deer are an extremely important wildlife resource of the state and deer hunting is tremendously popular. Each year, nearly half a million hunters pursue deer in Missouri, which provides a tremendous boon to Missouri’s economy and supports thousands of jobs.
CWD is a deadly, infectious disease in deer and other members of the deer family (cervids) that is 100% fatal. There is no vaccine or cure. CWD can be spread from direct deer-to-deer contact, through improper disposal of deer carcasses, and through the environment by deer contacting infectious material from other deer. Without management intervention, CWD infection rates increase and can cause significant population declines in deer populations. Given the significant threat the disease poses to the health of deer populations, CWD represents an extremely significant conservation challenge. Hunters play a critical role in helping MDC manage the disease by having their deer tested, following carcass-movement restrictions, and properly disposing of deer carcasses. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.