SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – More than 100 cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) found in deer and elk in northwest Arkansas has prompted the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to continue its increased CWD surveillance efforts in seven southwestern and south-central Missouri counties this fall and winter.
The Conservation Department encourages hunters who harvest deer in Barry, Christian, Douglas, McDonald, Ozark, Stone, and Taney counties to have their animals tested for CWD. Testing is free for hunters and MDC will have results available to participating hunters as they become available.
These seven counties are close to where the Arkansas CWD positives were found—with the closest detected less than 15 miles from the Missouri border. No cases of CWD have been found in southern Missouri.
“Early detection of Chronic Wasting Disease is critical because once the disease is well established in an area, it is impossible to eradicate,” said MDC Wildlife Division Chief Jason Sumners. “We want our kids and grandkids to grow up being able to hunt and watch a healthy and strong deer population in the state. CWD could destroy that. The simplest thing hunters can do to help is to get their harvested deer tested.”
CWD sampling and testing involves collecting tissue samples from the necks of harvested or other dead deer for analysis by an independent laboratory that specializes in animal-disease testing. It takes only a few minutes to collect the tissue samples and consists of cutting an incision across the throat of the harvested deer to remove lymph nodes for CWD testing. Processing test results takes several weeks.
CWD Testing Locations
From Sept. 15 through Jan. 15, hunters can take their harvested deer for CWD testing to either the MDC Ozark Regional Office in West Plains or the MDC Southwest Regional Office in Springfield. Testing will be available during normal business hours, typically 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.
MDC staff will also collect tissue samples at select meat processors during the opening weekend of the firearms deer season, Nov. 12 and 13. Cooperating taxidermists in the area will be collecting samples throughout the hunting season. Call the MDC Southwest Regional Office at 417-895-6880 or the MDC Ozark Regional Office at 417-256-7161 for participating businesses.
The Department will continue to test road-killed and sick-looking deer in the region. MDC encourages people to report deer that appear sick to local MDC offices or conservation agents.
Chronic Wasting Disease infects only deer and other members of the deer family by causing degeneration of the brain. This leads to a lack of coordination, paralysis, excessive salivation, unusual behavior, and emaciation. The disease has no vaccine or cure and is 100 percent fatal. A total of 33 free-ranging deer with CWD have been found in northeast, central, and east central Missouri since 2012.
Out of State Harvests
The Department reminds hunters who harvest deer, elk, or moose outside of the state — such as in Arkansas — and bring the animal back to Missouri that they must report the animal’s entry into the state within 24 hours by calling 877-853-5665 or reporting it online at mdc.mo.gov/carcass. Reporting is required by law. The carcass must be taken to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours of entry.
Hunters just passing through Missouri on their way to another state are exempt from this requirement as long as they are not in Missouri for longer than 24 hours.
The reporting requirement is only for whole carcasses and carcasses that have the head and spinal column attached. Parts that do not require reporting and that are at lower risk for harboring CWD include: meat that is cut and wrapped, boned-out-meat, quarters or other portions of meat with no pars of the spine or head attached, hides or capes from which excess tissue has been removed, antlers including those attached to skull plates or skulls where all muscle and brain tissue has been removed.