Number Of Arkansas Deer, Elk With Chronic Wasting Disease Climbs

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NEWTON COUNTY (KFSM) — Sampling by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission revealed 19 more deer and elk with Chronic Wasting Disease in the Boxley Valley area of Newton County, bringing the total number of animals to 22.

Last week, AGFC biologists took tissue samples from 49 deer and elk in an area where a CWD-positive elk and white-tail deer were found earlier this year. Eighteen deer and one elk tested positive for the disease and of the deer, four were found just outside the focal area.

Prior to these results, two deer and an elk had tested positive for CWD. All of them came from Newton County. The new test results included 17 positive samples from Newton County and two deer from Boone County.

The first case of CWD was detected in February in an elk that was killed by a hunter in October on the Buffalo National River near Pruitt during elk season.

As of Wednesday (March 23), more than 260 deer and 18 elks have been harvested for sampling. Results from another large batch of samples are expected next week.

Due to the large number of positive samples, including samples outside the established focal area, the AGFC will focus on collecting samples from road-killed deer and sick or dead deer throughout northwest Arkansas in order to determine the extent of the disease’s distribution.

AGFC Chief of Wildlife Management Brad Carner said biologists were hoping to find a low prevalence rate of CWD in the test samples, but that was not the case.

CWD affects the animal’s nervous system. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their heads low, salivate and grind their teeth.

The public can report sick deer and elk by calling 800-482-9262 or by email at cwdinfo@agfc.ar.gov, 24 hours a day.

Although there are no confirmed cases of CWD transmission from cervids to humans or to livestock, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Arkansas Department of Health recommend that people not consume meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.

The AGFC is holding weekly public meetings in Jasper at Carroll Electric, 511 E Court St. The next meetings will be held March 24, 31 and April 7 beginning at 11 a.m.