MDC reports 117 new cases of CWD for 2022 surveillance year
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports that it sampled and tested more than 33,000 deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) during the 2022 CWD surveillance year between July 2022 and April 2023. Of the more than 33,000 deer sampled, 117 tested positive for CWD.
CWD is a 100% fatal disease in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. The disease has been attributed to significant deer population declines in other states. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.
Those 117 deer bring the total number of CWD cases found in the state to 409 since the first case in wild deer was confirmed by MDC in early 2012. Including recent sampling efforts, more than 243,000 tissue samples from wild deer have been collected for CWD testing in Missouri since MDC began CWD surveillance in 2002.
Nearly 19,400 of the 33,000-plus deer tested this past CWD surveillance year were sampled as part of MDC mandatory CWD sampling efforts in select counties during the opening weekend of the November portion of firearms deer season, Nov. 12 and 13. Most of the remaining samples resulted from MDC’s voluntary sampling efforts conducted throughout the deer season in partnership with taxidermists and meat processors throughout the state.
Of the more than 33,000 samples, about 3,500 were collected during MDC’s targeted culling efforts conducted in cooperation with landowners on a voluntary basis after the close of regular deer season in localized areas near where CWD has been found. Through targeted culling, 41 CWD-positive deer were removed to help slow the spread of CWD.
“The goal of targeted culling is to remove CWD-positive deer from the landscape and reduce deer density in these localized areas to slow the spread of the disease and protect Missouri’s deer herd,” explained MDC Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Deb Hudman. “Targeted culling is a proven method to slow the spread of CWD and Missouri is one of several states that uses it to manage the disease.”
Of the deer tested, MDC found CWD-positive deer in 23 counties: Adair (3), Barry (1), Barton (9), Carroll (1), Cedar (1), Crawford (2), Dallas (1), Franklin (22), Gasconade (1), Hickory (1), Jefferson (7), Linn (15), Livingston (1), Macon (13), Perry (4), Putnam (3), Ray (1), St. Clair (1), St. Francois (1), Ste. Genevieve (20), Stone (4), Sullivan (3), and Taney (2).
“During this past year, we found CWD in a number of new counties,” Hudman said. “Cases were detected for the first time in Barton, Carroll, Dallas, Gasconade, Hickory, Livingston, Ray, St. Francois, and Sullivan counties.”
She added that MDC expects CWD to spread but the goal is to slow the spread while researchers work to develop a cure and additional management tools, and to keep the percentage of infected deer low.
In Missouri this past year, less than one percent of tissue samples from hunter-harvested deer tested positive for CWD.
“That is good news,” she said. “It is a testament to our ability to find the disease early in new areas and apply management actions to slow its spread.”
She added that if MDC does not continue to act aggressively to slow the spread of the disease, CWD could have significant effects on the deer population, hunting culture, and economy.
“There are areas of the country where over half of hunter-harvested adult bucks test positive for CWD,” Hudman explained. “We must do everything we can to not let this happen in Missouri and we need the help of hunters and landowners in this fight.”
Hunters and landowners are critical partners in the fight against CWD and can assist MDC by continuing to deer hunt, by participating in CWD sampling, by following regulations designed to slow CWD spread, and by cooperating with targeted culling efforts. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.