More than 2,000 samples tested
EMPORIA -- This year, chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) in three wild white-tailed bucks, all 2 ½ years of age or older, harvested during the rifle season in Decatur County northeast of Oberlin along Sappa Creek. In this same vicinity, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff detected CWD in a 1 ½-year-old white-tailed buck harvested in Red Willow County along Beaver Creek within a few miles of the Kansas border.

As a result, 41 more deer from this area were sampled. All these tests were negative. In addition, KDWP, has completed testing of samples collected from deer and elk harvested in other parts of the state during the 2007-08 hunting season. With the exception of the Decatur County positives, final laboratory results on 2,246 diagnostic specimens submitted for screening were all negative.

Although testing was performed on samples from all areas of Kansas, this year’s sampling effort concentrated on the western half of the state and in areas that have been tested less intensively over the past few years. All sick deer reported were tested and will continue to be tested, regardless of their location.

CWD has been detected twice before in Kansas. The first case was in 2001 in a captive elk herd in Harper County. That elk came from a private elk farm in Colorado. 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 2005-06 hunting season in a free-ranging white-tailed doe harvested in Cheyenne County, bordering Colorado and Nebraska.

Just as with the Cheyenne County case, there are several possible ways CWD could have been introduced into the Decatur County area. The disease could have been spread through the natural movement of deer or elk from endemic areas in Colorado and Nebraska. CWD could also have been introduced into the area by the actions of man. If the remains of an infected carcass were dumped into the open environment, healthy animals could have then encountered the infection associated with CWD. And as shown by the Harper County case, CWD can be moved from place to place by infected captive deer and elk.

Many diseases that affect deer and elk can mimic the signs of chronic wasting disease. Anyone who spots a deer or elk that acts sick should immediately contact the nearest KDWP office or phone 620-342-0658.