Biologists Monitor Deer Populations Health

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Targeted monitoring of Ohio's deer herd since June has found no sign of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

State wildlife staff throughout Ohio received training early this summer to provide them with information on how to identify possible cases of CWD.

"We don't expect to find the disease in Ohio deer, but we want to take every possible precaution so that Ohio deer hunters can continue to enjoy deer hunting seasons," said Mike Reynolds, a biologist with ODNR's Division of Wildlife. "There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted from wildlife to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating meat of an infected animal."

ODNR's Division of Wildlife will continue surveillance of the state's deer herd and the Ohio Department of Agriculture will test random samples of deer from deer check stations during the statewide deer gun season which runs December 2 - 8. A scientific protocol has been developed to determine how many deer should be tested across the state, so that Ohioans can be assured that CWD does not exist here.

The statewide archery season for deer opens on October 5 and runs through January 31.

If hunters observe a deer that looks sick or emaciated, Reynolds advises they should inform both the landowner and the regional office of the ODNR Division of Wildlife. State wildlife staff have been provided with specific procedures to collect these animals in a way that will provide the highest quality samples for disease testing purposes.

Division of Wildlife district offices are located in Akron, Athens, Columbus, Findlay, and Xenia and can also be contacted through 1-800 WILDLIFE.

Epizootic hemorraghic disease (EHD) was recently confirmed as the source of illness impacting deer in four townships along the borders of Gallia, Meigs and Vinton counties. The disease is the most common ailment of deer in the United States. State animal health officials stressed that the epizootic hemorrhagic outbreak is not related to Chronic Wasting Disease.

EHD does not affect humans, nor impact the safety of consumed deer.

Hunters in the four EHD-impacted townships may see a decrease in deer numbers this fall, but deer populations historically return in just one or two years.

Pat Ruble, wildlife management administrator for ODNR's Division of Wildlife, said the state will not propose any changes in regulations for this deer hunting season. "Because most of the outbreak area is on private land, I don't expect over harvesting to be an issue," he said.

The wildlife division advises hunters to report deer that appear to be sick or diseased to their local wildlife officer. Deer that do not appear to be healthy should not be taken for human food.