Record number of deer tested
PRATT -- The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has received test results on samples collected for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing during the fall 2006 and January 2007 deer hunting seasons. CWD was not detected in any of the samples collected. KDWP staff collected 2,970 samples from across Kansas, including 2,724 whitetail deer, 225 mule deer, and 15 elk.

Although the majority of KDWP's specimens had been submitted to Kansas State University for testing in December, problems at the K-State Diagnostic Lab slowed results. The university has addressed this issue and will deliver more timely results next year.

CWD has been detected twice in Kansas. The first case, in a Harper County captive elk herd, occurred in 2001. That elk came from a private elk farm in Colorado and was tested as part of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Kansas Department of Animal Health (KDAH). Although that herd has been destroyed, KDWP still tests as many free-ranging animals in that area as possible. The other case of CWD was detected during the 2005 hunting season in a free-ranging white-tailed doe harvested in Cheyenne County, bordering Colorado and Nebraska.

"In a stepped-up surveillance effort, Kansas sampled the highest number of deer in its history this last season," said Dr. Ruby Mosher, a veterinarian and wildlife disease coordinator for KDWP. "Due to the large number of animals tested, KDWP staff are confident that an occurrence of CWD in Kansas would be very rare at this time. Kansas hunters and residents can be assured that the health of our deer herd is robust.

"The results this year, of course, do not mean that CWD no longer exists in Kansas," Mosher continued. "It simply means that CWD was not detected in the samples collected and submitted for testing. Furthermore, no screening test is 100-percent reliable in determining the absence of CWD."

KDWP will send the results of this recent round of testing to all meat lockers, taxidermists, and other contractors who collected samples and information for the agency. In addition, the agency plans to continue CWD testing throughout the summer. These samples will come from vehicle-killed animals and those culled from the herd due to illness or injury.

For more information on CWD in Kansas, phone Mosher at 620-342-0658.