Another 44 deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease during the 2020-21 surveillance period, the Missouri Department of Conservation said in a Monday news release.
These results come from the 15,300 tissue samples collected mostly from deer killed by hunters.
The new findings bring the total number of CWD cases in the state to 206 among over 152,300 deer that have been tested since the fatal disease was first discovered in free-ranging Missouri deer in 2012. No cases have been detected in Boone County.
Of the 44 new cases, two were in Putnam County and one was in Pulaski County. Neither of those counties had previously known cases of CWD.
The other 42 cases were found in Adair (two), Franklin (five), Jefferson (five), Linn (six), Macon (five), Oregon (three), Polk (one), St. Clair (one), Ste. Genevieve (12) and Stone (one) counties, the department said. Another confirmed case in Ste. Genevieve came from a deer that people had told the department was sick.
It typically takes 18 months to two years for a deer to look visibly sick once it is infected with CWD. In Missouri, most deer that test positive show no symptoms, which can include dramatic weight loss, abnormal behavior, and excessive thirst, drooling or urination.
MDC Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Jasmine Batten noted that the 15,300 deer tested during the past season decreased significantly from the year before because of the effects of COVID-19 on MDC’s surveillance efforts.
“We tested about 16,000 fewer deer last season compared to the 2019-2020 testing period,” Batten said in the release. “Thankfully, the hard work of taxidermists and meat processors who provided samples, and the hunters who voluntarily had their deer sampled at a variety of locations allowed us to still adequately monitor and detect CWD throughout the state.”
The department uses targeted culling to reduce the spread of the disease. It said in the news release that 1,500 landowners volunteered to participate in that effort. Together, they and department staff killed 2,713 deer after the close of deer season, 18 of which tested positive for CWD. The rest were either returned to the landowner or donated to food pantries through Share the Harvest. More than 80,000 pounds of venison were donated to Share the Harvest from last season’s efforts.
For more information on the 2020-2021 CWD surveillance results, visit mdc.mo.gov/cwd.