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White-tailed deer tests positive for chronic wasting disease in Arkansas

A hunter-harvested white-tailed deer that was taken in Randolph County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

RANDOLPH COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has confirmed that a hunter-harvested white-tailed deer taken in Randolph County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The deer was harvested just south of the Missouri border during the Arkansas modern gun deer hunt.

A CWD sample was collected by a participating taxidermist the hunter used for the buck. That sample tested positive for CWD and was confirmed by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison.

Although this is the first case of CWD in Randolph County, the closest positive sample is in Oregon County, Missouri, roughly 25 miles away. 

The closest Arkansas positive sample was found in December 2019 in Independence County, more than 55 miles away.

According to Cory Gray, chief of the AGFC’s Research Division, the hunters who harvested the deer have been notified.

“We have already begun making plans to place more CWD drop-off containers near the area where the positive was found in Randolph County for voluntary testing. We’re also reaching out to our counterparts at the Missouri Department of Conservation to coordinate with them and share data,” Gray said.

In keeping with the AGFC’s CWD Management and Response Plan, there will be no changes to deer-hunting regulations for the remainder of the 2021-22 deer hunting season.

In addition to the positive sample in Randolph County, three more deer turned up positive for the first time in counties that were already in the CWD Management Zone. 

The three new counties found to have a positive sample are Crawford, Franklin and Van Buren counties. The Crawford County deer was harvested near Cedarville, the Franklin County deer was taken near Charleston and the Van Buren County deer was sampled near Alread.

Hunters who wish to have their deer tested for CWD can voluntarily take the head of the deer, with 6 inches of neck still attached, to one of the AGFC’s network of participating taxidermists to have a sample tested for free.

 They also may drop off the head at one of more than 100 CWD-testing collection stations positioned throughout the state. A list of CWD-testing facilities is available at www.agfc.com/cwd. Landowners near, especially those within ten miles of CWD-positive samples, may contact the AGFC to participate in surveillance efforts in the area. For more information, call 501-412-5434.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, caribou, and moose. It was first detected in Arkansas Feb. 23, 2016. 

Since the first detection, AGFC has tested more than 40,670 deer and elk from across the state. To date, 1,260 deer and 38 elk have tested positive for the disease in Arkansas.

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