Attention deer hunters: The Missouri Conservation is doing its part to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease, or CWD. But it’s also up to you to do your part.
This weekend marks the opening of the firearms deer season, the biggest component of the overall season. MDC will conduct both mandatory and voluntary sampling of deer killed, in an effort to find any cases of the disease.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose, affecting the brains of the infected animals and, usually, causing emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
The World Health Organization has reviewed the available scientific information about the disease and has concluded that — currently — there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.
But Missouri’s Conservation Department doesn’t want it affecting the state’s deer population, either.
What can deer hunters do to help?
First, know whether you are harvesting a deer from a county that has mandatory CWD sampling. They include Cole County as well as these others: Moniteau Adair, Barry, Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Cedar, Crawford, Franklin, Grundy, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington.
If you harvest deer from these counties this Saturday or Sunday, you must take the deer — or the head with at least six inches of the neck in place — on the day it is killed to one of MDC’s 61 CWD mandatory sampling stations. Deer may be presented at any mandatory sampling station, and hunters can get free test results of their sampled deer.
Second, properly dispose of deer carcasses. That will help prevent the disease from spreading.
Third, if you choose to donate the venison meat through the Share the Harvest program, follow special guidelines if sharing a harvested deer from a county where CWD has been found.
Deer donated to Share the Harvest must be tested for CWD if harvested from any of the 12 counties where CWD has been found: Cole, Adair, Cedar, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, Oregon, Perry, Polk, St. Clair and Ste. Genevieve. These deer can be donated only through processors participating in the Share the Harvest CWD Testing Program, and located in or near any of the 12 CWD-positive counties.
CWD has spread quickly in some other states. MDC has worked hard to prevent this from happening in Missouri. This deer season, we ask that all hunters help the agency by being steadfast in following rules designed to limit the spread of this deer-killing disease.