FWC Stays on the Lookout for CWD

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Two years of testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Florida’s deer herd reveals no signs of the fatal disease according to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that wildlife authorities in some midwestern and western states have detected in captive and wild herds of mule deer, white-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk. In addition to Florida, no other southeastern state has been hit by the deer disease.

“We have tested 1,244 free-ranging deer during the past two years, and there have been no CWD-positive results,” said Deer Program coordinator John Morgan of FWC’s Hunting and Game Management Division. “However, we still need to be vigilant in our monitoring efforts. We hope CWD never makes it to Florida, but early detection will be key to limiting the spread of the disease if an outbreak should occur.”

The FWC is again seeking help from sportsmen this hunting season to help monitor the state’s deer herd for CWD.

“We are urging hunters to report sightings of sick or skinny-looking deer,” Morgan said. “If you see such a deer, call us toll-free at (866) CWD-WATCH (293-9282). Wildlife biologists will respond to calls and if necessary collect deer tissues for testing. It’s important to contact us as soon as possible, because testing must take place within 48 hours of a deer’s death to yield reliable results.”

Wildlife experts have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, but they recommend avoiding direct contact with any sickly deer or one that has died from unknown reasons.

CWD WATCH is part of a comprehensive monitoring program to ensure CWD is not already in Florida and that the disease does not spread to the state.

More information about CWD is available at MyFWC.com/cwd. The Web site also offers links to human and wildlife health agencies with more in-depth information about the disease.