Conservation renews deer sampling requirements in Missouri

<p>Julie Smith/News Tribune</p><p>Ahead of firearms season, the Missouri Department of Conservation reminds hunters about mandatory sampling for Chronic Wasting Disease in designated counties.</p>

Julie Smith/News Tribune

Ahead of firearms season, the Missouri Department of Conservation reminds hunters about mandatory sampling for Chronic Wasting Disease in designated counties.

Missouri deer hunters will see some extra requirements in select locations as the state begins its November firearms season.

The Missouri Department of Conservation will conduct mandatory sampling for chronic wasting disease Saturday and Sunday for deer harvested in 34 counties.

The counties, known as CWD Management Zones, include areas where chronic wasting disease has been found and counties within 10 miles of those areas.

This year, the list includes: Adair, Barry, Camden, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Linn, Macon, McDonald, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington counties.

Four counties - Camden, Laclede, McDonald and Pulaski - are new to MDC's CWD Management Zone this year.

Hunters who harvest deer within those 34 counties during the opening weekend of firearms season are required to bring the deer's carcass or its head to a MDC sampling station located in the county the deer is harvested in on the same day the deer is killed.

In the event the harvested deer will be delivered to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within two days, or if the deer head will be left with the sampling station for disposal, hunters can bring the carcass to a sampling station in any county.

Chronic wasting disease is an infectious disease among deer and other cervids that spreads through direct deer-to-deer contact, improper disposal of deer carcasses and contact with infectious material.

Without a vaccine or cure, chronic wasting disease kills all animals it infects.

To conduct chronic waste disease sampling, MDC staff cut across the throat of the harvested deer and remove lymph nodes. The tissue samples are then sent to an independent lab for testing.

Sampling and test results are free and can be found online at within four weeks or less.

If the deer is to be taxidermied, hunters should inform MDC staff at the sampling station so they can complete necessary paperwork and provide referrals to taxidermists accepting chronic wasting disease tissue samples.

Prior to arriving at a sampling station, hunters should field dress and telecheck their deer, position the deer so the head and neck are easily accessible, have the hunter who harvested the deer present, be able to locate where the deer was killed on map and have permit information available. Capes may also be removed prior to arriving at the station if the deer is to be taxidermied.

Hunters must also follow carcass-movement restrictions for deer, elk and moose harvested in a CWD Management Zone or out of state.

If transporting a deer carcass out of a CWD Management Zone county, hunters must telecheck the deer before moving it. The whole carcass can only be transported out of the county if delivered to a licensed meat processor and deer heads can only leave the county if delivered to a licensed taxidermist or approved sampling station.

During opening weekend, the deer carcass or head must be taken to a sampling station on the day of harvest.

Meat that has been boned out, cut or wrapped, meat with no portion of the spinal column or head attached, hides with excess tissue removed, finished taxidermy products, and antlers and skulls cleaned of muscle and brain tissue can be moved outside the county without restriction.

MDC allows the same parts, as well as upper canine teeth, to be transported into the state without restrictions.

For hunters bringing game from out of state, MDC no longer allows whole carcass transport into the state, but heads with the cape attached and no more than 6 inches of neck are permitted if being delivered to a taxidermist within 48 hours.

The state no longer requires hunters to report carcass parts entering the state via the transport hotline.

The opening weekend of the November firearms season is the most popular time for deer hunting in the state. Roughly one-third of the deer harvested in Missouri are shot down during opening weekend each year.

MDC relies on hunters to help the department manage chronic wasting disease by having deer tested and following carcass-movement restrictions.

With mandatory sampling, MDC dramatically increases the number of deer it can test, which provides the department a better understanding of the prevalence and distribution of chronic wasting disease among Missouri's deer population and helps to identify new cases in new areas.

In addition to the mandatory sampling opening weekend, MDC offers voluntary chronic wasting disease testing statewide throughout the entire deer season.

Hunters can get their deer tested at select MDC offices during regular business hours or at participating taxidermists, meat processors and self-service freezers.

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