JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Conservation Commission recently approved proposed regulation changes from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) related to chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance and management efforts. The changes were approved at the Commission’s May 21 open meeting. They add four counties to the CWD Management Zone and reinstate mandatory CWD sampling requirements.
The approved MDC regulations add Camden, Laclede, McDonald, and Pulaski counties to the CWD Management Zone. The four counties were added to the Zone due to CWD being found in or near them. With the additional counties, the CWD Management Zone consists of 34 counties in or near where CWD has been found.
MDC previously reported it confirmed 44 new cases of CWD from more than 15,300 deer tested during the past year. Of the 44 new cases, one was found in Pulaski County, which had no previously known cases of CWD. Due to the detection of CWD in Pulaski County, MDC recommended that Pulaski County and adjacent Camden and Laclede counties be placed in the CWD Management Zone. Due to the detection of a CWD-positive deer in northern Benton County in Arkansas within 10 miles of McDonald County in Missouri, MDC recommended that McDonald County be added to the CWD Management Zone.
The Commission also gave its approval to reinstate mandatory CWD sampling for the coming deer season. Counties designated for mandatory CWD sampling must be approved by the Commission each year. As a result of COVID-19, MDC waived the mandatory sampling requirement for last year’s opening weekend.
Hunters who harvest deer in any counties of the CWD Management Zone during the opening weekend of the November portion of the firearms deer season (Nov. 13-14) are required to take their harvested deer (or the head) on the day of harvest to one of MDC’s mandatory CWD sampling stations throughout the Zone.
Hunters must follow carcass-movement restrictions when traveling to a mandatory CWD sampling station. Hunters must present their deer (or the head from their deer) to a mandatory CWD sampling station within the county of harvest, with a few exceptions. Deer that will be delivered to a permitted meat processor or taxidermist within 48 hours or deer heads that will be left at the MDC mandatory CWD sampling station for disposal after sampling may be transported to a sampling station in any county.
Related CWD regulations prohibit the placement of feed or minerals for deer in counties of the CWD Management Zone. For the four counties newly added to the CWD Management Zone, the deer feeding ban will become effective July 1. Additionally, deer transportation regulations effective within all CWD Management Zone counties limit the transportation of some deer parts outside of the county of harvest.
Also related to CWD management, MDC has removed the antler-point restriction (APR) for the upcoming deer season in Camden and Pulaski counties. Younger bucks, which are protected under the APR, are more likely to disperse and potentially spread CWD. Therefore, removing the APR within the CWD Management Zone minimizes the risk of disease spread to other areas.
Also beginning this fall, hunters may fill two Firearms Antlerless Deer Hunting Permits in Camden, Laclede, and Pulaski counties.
Additional information on these and other regulations will be included in MDC’s 2021 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online starting in July.
CWD is a deadly disease in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. The purpose of MDC’s CWD sampling and testing efforts is to find cases as early as possible so the Department can limit the spread of the disease by implementing management actions. The total number of known CWD cases in the state is 206. MDC has tested more than 152,300 deer since the first cases of CWD were found in free-ranging deer in Missouri in 2012. For more information on CWD and MDC efforts to limit the spread of the disease, visit mdc.mo.gov/cwd.