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Fatal deer disease not detected in latest Kentucky testing

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The latest results of chronic wasting disease testing of Kentucky deer and elk returned encouraging news: none of the tests came back positive for the fatal brain disease that affects members of the deer family.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ monitoring of the state’s deer and elk herd for chronic wasting disease (CWD) will be among the topics covered at four public CWD forums planned across the state in the coming weeks.

The first of these informative community forums is scheduled at 6 – 8 p.m. (Central) on Thursday, April 18 at the Camp John Currie dining hall, 295 Camp Currie Road. The camp is on the shore of Kentucky Lake. Times, dates and locations for the remaining forums will be announced later.

Chronic wasting disease is caused by abnormal proteins called prions and it affects white-tailed deer, elk, moose, mule deer and caribou (cervids). There is no known cure or vaccine and it is always fatal in infected cervids. The disease has spread to more than half the states in the country since it was first recorded in Colorado in the 1960s.

Chronic wasting disease has not been detected in Kentucky, but six of the seven states bordering the Commonwealth are CWD positive. Indiana is the exception. Tennessee confirmed its first cases of CWD in late 2018.

Proactive measures by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and its partners have helped protect Kentucky’s deer and elk from the disease. Since 2002, the department has tested close to 30,000 deer and elk. Most of those animals were harvested by hunters. Every county has been tested multiple times.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife personnel will be on hand at the public forums to discuss CWD, the department’s readiness should it be detected in Kentucky and to answer questions and gather public input about CWD preparedness.

The regional forums are a doubling down of the department’s efforts to educate the public about CWD. Kentucky Fish and Wildlife plans to roll out other outreach efforts this year, including printed materials, videos, presentations and more.

In the meantime, members of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission, department leadership and Wildlife Division staff continue their efforts to keep CWD out of the state.

Some recent developments related to CWD include:

1. Implementation of a complete carcass importation ban from any state or country 301 KAR 2:095
2. Legislation requiring processors to dispose of carcasses in ways to reduce the chances of spreading CWD, including burying wastes or disposing of wastes in a lined landfill
3. A commission requirement for taxidermists to bury carcass waste or dispose of wastes in a lined landfill
4. The commission’s adoption of the AWFWA CWD BMP document

To learn more about this issue, visit the department CWD webpage at https://fw.ky.gov/Wildlife/Pages/Chronic-Wasting-Disease.aspx. The page also provides a link to the department’s CWD Response Plan.