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Outdoors - CWD tests come back positive

October 02, 2005|By Bill Anderson

Last week's column reported that the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources had three preliminary positive samples of Chronic Wasting Disease from Hampshire County. The results were considered preliminary until a more definitive test could be completed.

The tests have been completed and the three have been confirmed as positive. This brings the total to four - the first from a roadkill sample taken early in September and three additional positives from samples taken from deer shot by DNR personnel. All of the positive deer have come from an area within 2 1/2 miles of Slanesville, W.Va.

Regional biologist Rich Rogers said Friday that a total of 174 deer have been killed as part of the sampling process and that 121 of the samples have been tested so far.

"We have enough deer killed now for a statistical sampling," he said. "So far we have the three positives and we will send in the other samples today."

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Rogers said that hunters should plan to deal with CWD since it will be a factor for years to come.

"All whitetailed deer, mule deer and elk are predisposed to the disease," he said. "Some states, like Colorado and Wisconsin, have been dealing with it for 30 years and there is no evidence that it can be transmitted to humans."

As for precautions, Rogers said the best advice is for hunters to be careful when butchering deer and stay away from brain tissue and spinal-column fluids and tissue.

"Hunters need to be clean when butchering," he said. "We recommend you bone out the meat (as in stripping out the tenderloins) and also to remove and discard the lymph nodes in the shoulder area. As a general rule, hunters should consider wearing gloves when field dressing and processing deer - not just for CWD but for other things deer can sometimes carry."

The DNR is looking into several things for the upcoming season. One potential approach is to find a lab to which hunters can send their own sample at their own expense.

"Hunters need to be aware of CWD and use some common sense," Rogers said. "For example, you should not use a saw on the skull of a buck to remove the antlers and then use the same saw to work up the meat. Another example is if you kill a deer that is obviously sick, you should not eat it. Turn it in to the DNR and get another tag."

Rogers said that one of the key ways of controlling CWD is herd reduction, since it is more easily transmitted within the population when a habitat is overpopulated.

"We are not going to be engaged in a deer eradication process," he said. "We will try to get population reductions, which will help. But this is a long-term problem that we will have to work through."

The West Virginia DNR is reminding bow hunters that if they wish to purchase additional deer licenses (Class RB or RRB) for the archery season, they must do so before the season opens Oct. 15.

Hunters will be allowed to purchase up to two licenses for the bow season. Hunters can take up to three deer during the bow season, open from Oct. 15 to Dec. 31.




Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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