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CWD still lingers in Hampshire County

May 20, 2007|By BILL ANDERSON

It appears the Chronic Wasting Disease story in Hampshire County, W.Va. is not going away any time soon.

CWD was first found in free-ranging deer in Hampshire County in 2005. CWD is a neurological disease found in deer and elk, and is caused by particles called prions that slowly attack the brain of infected deer and elk. Deer with CWD progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and eventually die. There is no known treatment for CWD.

The state DNR initiated a public information program to help hunters understand the nature of the disease and the recommended steps for handling deer taken from that region.

Most of the CWD-positive deer have been in the Slanesville area. Thirteen deer have tested positive after almost two years of testing. The latest were three positive deer from 101 adults killed and sampled in March and April. The DNR is monitoring the situation by taking deer from the herd and also by taking samples from deer killed on state roads.

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Wildlife managers point out the only confirmed cases are from a relatively small geographical area on the north side of U.S. Route 50 near Slanesville, giving hope that the disease can be controlled and maybe even eliminated at some point.

The DNR will use this approach for managing the situation:

·Continue the surveillance efforts to determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease;

·Lower deer population levels to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer by implementing appropriate antlerless deer hunting regulations designed to increase hunter opportunity to harvest female deer;

·Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate deer carcass transport restrictions designed to lower the risk of moving the disease to other locations;

·Establish reasonable, responsible and appropriate regulations relating to the feeding and baiting of deer within the affected area to reduce the risk of spreading the disease from deer to deer.

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

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