North Carolina deer hunters asked to help with disease study

By on September 19, 2013

NCWIldlife.orgThe N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking whitetail hunters to allow its staff to sample their deer harvests this fall for the agency’s statewide chronic wasting disease surveillance effort.

chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a fatal disease, although deer may not show symptoms for five years or more. No treatment or cure for CWD exists.

Direct, animal-to-animal contact is a means of transmission, but evidence also suggests that contaminated environments present risks. Humans are not known to contract CWD.

Although CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, deer populations have tested positive for the disease in Virginia, West Virginia and 20 other states, as well as two Canadian provinces.

The Wildlife Commission conducts surveillance of the white-tailed deer population to monitor for the presence of the disease and prevent its spread if it is detected in the state’s deer population. The Commission has been conducting CWD surveillance of white-tailed deer since 1999, including two statewide sampling efforts in 2003 and 2008, and smaller scale subsampling efforts in other years.

The 2013 surveillance effort will be the most extensive yet as Commission staff seeks to collect samples from a minimum of 3,000 deer from across the state.

Public assistance in this effort will be essential to help the Commission meet its goal, according to Maria Palamar, the Commission’s wildlife veterinarian.

“If you, or someone you know, harvests deer this fall and are willing to donate samples, please contact the Wildlife Commission promptly,” Palamar said.

“We’ll collect the brain stem and retropharyngeal lymph nodes to submit for laboratory testing,” Palamar said. “Collection of these tissues does not interfere with a hunter’s ability to retain the antlers or consume the meat.”

Hunters who want to participate can contact Chris Turner, regional biologist at the Wildlife Resources Commission office in Edenton, at 252.221.9961.

Along with providing an tissue sample, you will be asked to provide your name and contact information and the exact location where the deer was killed, the date of the kill and the sex.

Suitable samples can be taken from any deer 1 1/2 years or older. While younger deer (i.e., button bucks) can potentially have the disease, it will not have progressed far enough that it can be detected in the testing.

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