No Presence of Chronic Wasting Disease

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Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced that the recent discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer from captive herds in New York does not pose an immediate threat to the deer herd in New Jersey. To date, there is no evidence that any deer originated from or were transported to New Jersey.

"Extensive testing of over 1,900 New Jersey deer since 1998 has failed to detect the presence of CWD in our wild deer herd," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "It is critical that we continue to monitor the health of our deer herd and make sure that the precautionary ban on the importation of deer and elk put in place on April 15, 2002 is strictly enforced."

In 2002, in order to reduce the risk of chronic wasting disease entering New Jersey, DEP imposed an emergency ban on the importation of deer and elk into the State. The DEP, state Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to prevent the spread of CWD, and will respond quickly to contain and eradicate CWD should it be found within the state.

"It is important to note that the CWD infected deer in New York were deer from captive herds and that New Jersey will continue to monitor and evaluate the operations for captive deer in or state," said DEP Fish and Wildlife Director Martin J. McHugh. "The extensive testing of wild deer herds in the tri-state area has failed to detect the disease in wild deer. Ongoing testing consistently shows no evidence of the disease in our state."

In February 2002, a private deer herder with preserves in South Hardyston and Sparta in Sussex County illegally imported wild deer from Wisconsin, where CWD had been diagnosed in captive and free ranging deer. In response, DEP ordered the quarantine of all deer, elk and sheep on the two hunting preserves. DEP coordinated the testing of the imported deer as well as fifty-one hunter-killed deer in the surrounding communities of White Township in Warren County and Franklin and Hardyston townships in Sussex County. All the deer tested negative for CWD.

Scientists believe that CWD is caused by an abnormally shaped, infectious protein called a prion. CWD causes damage to the brain and central nervous system of mule deer, rocky mountain elk and white-tailed deer. Symptoms include loss of body condition and altered behavior; however, the disease can only be effectively diagnosed through examination of a portion of the brain.

Chronic wasting disease has been diagnosed in captive elk or deer in nine states including Colorado, Montana, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, New York and in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It has been confirmed in wild deer in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and New Mexico.

CWD causes weight loss and is always fatal. To date, it has been only found in members of the deer family. There is no evidence that CWD is linked to disease in humans or domestic livestock other than deer and elk.