CWD Deer Tests Negative

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Test results on 90 deer recently collected in southwestern South Dakota resulted in no additional findings of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in that area.

The deer were collected for testing in early March after some of the deer taken by Nebraska Game and Parks personnel in northwestern Nebraska tested positive for the disease. The follow-up testing in South Dakota was done to determine if CWD existed in free-roaming deer herds in southern Fall River County. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) killed 67 mule deer and 23 white-tailed deer, and sent tissue samples to a testing laboratory in Laramie, Wyoming.

"The deer were taken in an area five miles wide, west of Highway 85 along the South Dakota/ Nebraska state line to the Wyoming state line," according to Mike Kintigh, regional supervisor for GFP in Rapid City. "Nebraska has had incidences of CWD immediately to the south of this area, and we know deer regularly travel back and forth across the state line."

While South Dakota GFP personnel were harvesting the 90 deer for testing, Nebraska Game and Parks personnel were collecting 56 mule deer and 36 white-tailed deer on their side of the border. Test results on these deer are not available at this time.

At the same time plans were being finalized to collect deer along the South Dakota/Nebraska border, test results were received for the deer and elk heads collected last fall from hunter-harvested animals in South Dakota. The results indicated one of the deer taken by a hunter in northeast Fall River County tested positive for CWD, which was the first case of CWD found in either free-roaming deer or elk in South Dakota. This finding resulted in another collection effort in mid-March when 24 mule deer and 28 whitetail deer were taken within a 5-mile radius around the town of Oral, near where the positive CWD deer was killed. Tissue samples from these deer have been submitted for testing, but results are not available at this time.

According to Kintigh, a total of 920 deer and 519 elk taken by hunters in South Dakota since 1997, including 335 deer and 166 elk in 2001, have now been tested as part of a continuing effort by GFP and the State Animal Industry Board to be on guard for the presence of CWD in this state.

Game, Fish and Parks is currently working with the Animal Industry Board to formulate a CWD management plan.

"It is our goal to do everything we possibly can to prevent the spread of CWD, and to provide quick and accurate information to the public regarding CWD," Kintigh said.