Deer Herd Tests Negative for CWD

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For the fifth year in a row, all tests came back negative for chronic wasting disease from samples taken from the state’s wild deer herd.

“This isn’t unexpected news, but it is always good to hear the official word,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Personnel with the USDA veterinary services took brain samples from 1,429 deer and elk harvested during the 2003-04 hunting season from across the state. Over the past five years a total of 2,830 samples have been submitted for CWD testing.

“This is our largest sample size yet and it was taken from a large area of the state,” Shaw said. “We will continue to be vigilant in our surveillance program.”

CWD is an infectious disease of wild and captive elk and deer that results in progressive degeneration of the brain tissue in infected animals. First recognized in 1967, CWD is not a new disease and has been found in wild herds in limited areas of several western and northern states. There is no evidence that CWD has ever been transmitted to people, livestock or other kinds of animals.

Oklahomans certainly enjoyed a fantastic 2003-2004 deer season. According to preliminary numbers, approximately 100,500 deer were harvested last year. Final numbers along with county totals should be available in late June.

Many hunters are already making plans for the 2004-2005 deer seasons. Other than calendar adjustments, no changes were made in either the season dates or antlerless deer hunting opportunities. The 2004-2005 deer hunting season dates are as follows:

Deer Archery Oct. 1 - Jan. 15

Deer Muzzleloader Oct. 23 - Oct. 31

Deer Gun Nov. 20 - Dec. 5