Testing of Elk, Deer Continues for Chronic Wasting Disease

Testing of Elk, Deer Continues for Chronic Wasting Disease

South Dakota Fish, Game & Parks
South Dakota Fish, Game & Parks

RAPID CITY, S.D.—-(AmmoLand.com)-As South Dakota hunters get ready for deer and elk hunting seasons, the state Game, Fish and Parks Department is preparing for another round of chronic wasting disease testing.

CWD surveillance is done in counties where the disease has been verified in elk and deer. Those areas include the Black Hills, and Fall River, Custer and Pennington counties.

“We are monitoring prevalence of the disease in these areas to see if CWD is becoming more common,” says Steve Griffin, GFP big-game biologist. “There are no known human health risks involved with this disease, so we focus on determining the consequences for wildlife populations.”

Hunters receiving licenses for CWD surveillance areas will be advised by mail by GFP with details about participation, drop-off points and testing procedures. Hunters who submit deer or elk heads will be notified about test results.

“Hunter participation is the key to success of such a large-scale surveillance project,” Griffin says “Their efforts show that hunters are concerned about protecting the natural resources in South Dakota.”

During last year’s surveillance, 21 deer and 14 elk were found with the disease. Since 1997, 75 deer and 37 elk have tested positive for CWD in South Dakota. During that time, more than 19,600 animals were tested.

CWD is a fatal brain disease found in both captive and free-ranging elk and deer. In the disease’s late stages, infected animals become emaciated, behave abnormally, lose control of muscles and other bodily functions, and die.

Those who spot elk or deer showing symptoms of CWD should report them.

“If you see an animal displaying signs of CWD, please contact the Game, Fish and Parks Department,” Griffin says. “It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or where in the state the animal is located. If it’s displaying signs of CWD, we’ll try to get it tested.”

For more information about the CWD surveillance program, contact the GFP Regional Office in Rapid City at 605-394-2391 or visit the department’s Web site at http://www.sdgfp.info/Wildlife/hunting/BigGame/CWD.htm

South Dakota’s efforts are part of the National CWD Surveillance Program, with testing for the disease at the South Dakota State University diagnostic laboratory in Brookings. Hunters who want deer tested from outside the surveillance areas should directly contact the diagnostic lab