|These most recent samples were collected in March and April by DNR`s
deer collection teams working in Hampshire County. The CWD laboratory
testing was conducted by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife
Disease Study, which is located at the University of Georgia`s
College of Veterinary Medicine in Athens, Georgia.
When CWD was first confirmed in September 2005 in Hampshire County,
DNR immediately implemented its CWD - Incident Response Plan. As part
of that plan, DNR has been engaged in intensive CWD surveillance
efforts designed to determine the distribution and prevalence of the disease.
From September 2005 through April 2006, a total of 1317 Hampshire
County deer were tested for CWD. These samples consisted of 1016
hunter-harvested deer taken during the 2005 fall hunting season, 216
deer collected by DNR in the fall of 2005, and 85 additional deer
most recently collected by DNR in 2006. CWD was not detected in any
of the hunter-harvested deer collected last fall. Of the 216 deer
collected by DNR in the fall of 2005, 4 were confirmed to have the
CWD agent, and now, preliminary tests indicate that 4 of the 85 deer
collected by DNR in 2006 have the CWD agent. The disease has now been
detected in a total of 9 deer in Hampshire County (i.e., one
road-killed deer, 4 deer collected by the DNR in 2005, and 4 deer
collected by the DNR in 2006).
`Analysis of these initial CWD surveillance data indicates the
disease appears to be found in a relatively small geographical area
located near Slanesville, West Virginia,` noted DNR Director Frank Jezioro.
`From a wildlife disease management perspective, we consider this to
be encouraging news. Based upon these CWD surveillance findings, we
are taking the steps necessary to implement appropriate management
actions designed to control the spread of this disease, prevent
further introduction of the disease, and possibly eliminate the
disease from the state,` Jezioro said.
The following disease management options are being evaluated by the
DNR for use within the affected area of Hampshire County:
- Lower deer population levels to reduce the risk of spreading the
disease from deer to deer by implementing appropriate antlerless deer
hunting regulations designed to increase hunters` opportunities to
harvest female deer;
- Establish reasonable, responsible, and appropriate deer carcass
transport restrictions designed to lower the risk of moving the
disease to other locations;
- Establish reasonable, responsible, and appropriate regulations
relating to the feeding and baiting of deer within the affected area
to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer.
`Landowner cooperation throughout this entire CWD surveillance effort
in Hampshire County has been just terrific,` Jezioro noted. `As we
strive to meet this wildlife disease challenge and implement
appropriate management strategies, the support and involvement of
landowners and hunters will continue to be essential. DNR remains
committed to keeping the public informed and involved in these
wildlife disease management actions.`
CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and it belongs
to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies. The disease is thought to be caused by abnormal,
proteinaceous particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of
infected deer and elk, causing the animals to progressively become
emaciated, display abnormal behavior and invariably results in the
death of the infected animal.
There is no known treatment for CWD, and it is fatal for the infected
deer or elk. It is important to note that currently there is no
evidence to suggest CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.
CWD was first recognized in 1967 in Colorado, and it subsequently has
been found in captive deer and elk herds in 9 states and 2 Canadian
provinces and in free-ranging deer and elk in 11 states and 2
provinces. In 2005 the disease was found as far east as New York and
West Virginia. The source of infection for wild and captive deer and
elk in new geographical areas is unknown in many instances. While it
is not known exactly how CWD is transmitted, lateral spread from
animal to animal through shedding of the infectious agent from the
digestive tract appears to be important, and indirect transmission
through environmental contamination with infective material is likely.
`Our well-trained and professional wildlife biologists, wildlife
managers and conservation officers are working diligently to fully
implement the DNR`s CWD - Incident Response Plan, which is designed
to effectively address this wildlife disease threat,` said Jezioro.
`Hunters, landowners and other members of the public should feel
confident that we have some of the best wildlife biologists and
veterinarians in the world, including those stationed at the
Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia,
working collaboratively on this situation.`
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