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Negative CWD tests are a positive

January 15, 2006|By Bill Anderson

The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources announced that a very large sampling from deer taken in Hampshire County during the hunting season has revealed no additional cases of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Samples were taken from 1,015 hunter-killed deer during firearms and archery seasons and the samples were submitted to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

CWD was first discovered in Hampshire County when a road-killed deer tested positive in September 2005. The DNR initiated a collection project in the Slanesville area during which 208 deer were killed for CWD testing. This testing produced an additional four cases of confirmed CWD.

The reports of CWD had far-reaching effects. In Maryland, meat processing operations were forced to stop taking deer killed in West Virginia. Some nonresident hunters refused to hunt this past season based on the uncertainty of the safety issues with eating meat from deer with CWD.


The West Virginia DNR says it plans to continue CWD testing in 2006 and that a cooperative effort has been launched with officials in Maryland and Virginia.

Experts say CWD is not going to disappear and an ongoing effort from DNR biologists, hunters and landowners is necessary to control it. In particular, you should report any deer that show signs or symptoms of being sick. Potential symptoms include poor body condition, tremors and instability when walking. You should not disturb or kill the animal, but contact DNR officials who will investigate the report.

Harvest totals

The West Virginia DNR has released the combined deer harvest total for all seasons in 2005. The total kill was 134,557, which was down 25 percent from 2004. As noted in earlier columns, 2004 was not a good year by any measure.

By season the 2005 totals look like this: Archery 22,255 (down 15 percent); Antlerless 46,708 (down 37 percent); Muzzleloader 8,788 (down 42 percent).

"This year's deer harvest demonstrates the overall success of deer reduction efforts implemented in counties exceeding their population objectives," DNR Director Frank Jezioro said in a statement last week.

Some of us have a very different view. I think the statewide numbers of the past five years reflect the department's successful implementation of a deer extermination program in many areas in the state.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached by e-mail at

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