Wildlife officials testing harvested deer for chronic wasting disease
Hunters who bring their deer to a Nebraska check station may have their deer tested for chronic wasting disease.
According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, samples will be collected at check stations in north-central, central and northwest Nebraska during the November firearm deer hunting season.
NGPC staff will collect lymph nodes from select harvested deer during the Nov. 10-18 season from the Pine Ridge, Plains, Sandhills, Keya Paha, Calamus West and Loup West management units.
The goal of this sampling effort is to assess the spread and prevalence of CWD through periodic testing in each region of the state, which will help biologists predict when and where future effects on deer numbers may occur. Testing will take place in other regions of the state in the next several years.
Other hunters outside of the sampling area may have their deer tested for CWD, for a fee, by the Nebraska Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Lincoln.
Although present in Colorado and Wyoming for several decades, CWD was first discovered in Nebraska in 2000 in Kimball County. Since 1997, Game and Parks staff have tested nearly 51,000 deer and found 499 that tested positive. CWD has been found in 40 Nebraska counties, but no population declines attributable to the disease have yet occurred.
CWD is prion disease that attacks the brain of infected deer and elk, eventually causing emaciation, listlessness, excessive salivation and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no person is known to have contracted CWD; however, hunters should cautiously handle and process deer and avoid consuming animals that test positive or look sick. Livestock and other animals not in the deer family do not appear susceptible to CWD.
Hunters can help prevent the spread of CWD by using proper carcass disposal methods. CWD prions, the infectious proteins that transmit the disease, can remain viable for months or even years in the soil. Hunters should field dress animals at the place of kill, avoid spreading spinal cord or brain tissue to meat, and dispose of the head (brain), spinal column and other bones at a licensed landfill.
Learn more about CWD here.