Missouri Department of Conservation looks for origins of chronic wasting disease

Friday, February 26, 2010 | 5:04 p.m. CST; updated 5:46 p.m. CST, Friday, February 26, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Conservation is working with state and federal agriculture investigators to piece together the path of a captive white-tailed deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Lonnie Hansen, resource scientist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said Friday that investigators were trying to track details associated with the captive deer that tested positive.


The deer was found in northeast Missouri at one of nine farms in the state that raise deer for recreational hunting.

Tim Ripperger, deputy director of the Department of Conservation, said his agency was following its contingency plan for dealing with the disease, including tests on the wild deer population around the Linn County farm. 

The case of chronic wasting disease was the first reported in Missouri. Taylor Woods, state veterinarian for the Department of Animal Health, said the captive deer population at the several-thousand-acre farm where the brain-wasting disease was found has been quarantined.

The disease was found as part of routine screening and testing by the state that involves scanning the brain stems of dead or killed deer.

What happens in the free-ranging deer population depends on how many, if any, positive cases are found in the area surrounding the captive facility. Hansen said that if a small number is found to be infected, efforts will be made to prevent further spread. If the problem proves to be widespread in free-ranging deer, Hansen said, at some point, the Conservation Department might have to make adjustments to the hunting season.


The discovery of chronic wasting disease in Missouri could cost the captive deer industry "millions of dollars," Wood said.

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