A new case of chronic wasting disease has been found in Independence County. A hunter-harvested white-tailed deer taken east of Oil Trough tested positive for the disease.
The buck, sampled through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s network of partnering taxidermists, tested positive for CWD at the Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and was confirmed by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison.
Although Independence County is outside the AGFC’s CWD Management Zone, the AGFC does not expect to make any changes to deer-hunting regulations for the remainder of the current season.
Dr. Jenn Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian for the AGFC, said the agency will evaluate the need for any expansion of the CWD Management Zone during the hunting regulations-setting process once the season ends next year.
“Changing the regulations mid-season would not be fair to hunters,” Ballard said.
Ballard said the case in Independence County is indicative of how the disease can spread slowly through natural deer movements.
“We know bucks tend to carry a higher prevalence of the disease than does, and we know bucks can disperse long distances, potentially moving the disease across the landscape,” Ballard said. “That is why we have partnered with taxidermists to help us collect samples as a free service to hunters.”
Hunters who wish to have their deer tested can 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 dozens of CWD-testing collection stations positioned throughout the state. Since the confirmed CWD positive deer was found in Independence County, the AGFC has set up a new CWD-testing collection station in Oil Trough. Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for a list of testing locations.
Local landowners near Oil Trough may contact the AGFC to participate in surveillance efforts in the area. For more information, call 501-978-7370.
The current CWD management zone includes Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Stone, Van Buren, Washington and Yell counties.
CWD was first detected in Arkansas Feb. 23, 2016. Since the first detection, AGFC has sampled and tested more than 20,600 deer and elk from across the state. To date, 770 deer and elk have tested positive for the disease in Arkansas.