The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announces it has changed its mandatory sampling requirements for chronic wasting disease (CWD) to voluntary sampling in 30 counties during the opening weekend of this year’s November firearms portion of deer season. The change was prompted by ongoing cases and public-health concerns in Missouri regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
The change will impact hunters who harvest deer during the opening weekend of the November portion of the firearms deer season (Nov. 14 and 15) in any of the 30 MDC CWD Management Zone counties: Adair, Barry, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.
While CWD sampling is no longer required Nov. 14 and 15 for the 30 counties in its CWD Management Zone, MDC’s 71 CWD sampling stations located throughout the zone will remain open. MDC encourages hunters to have their deer sampled for CWD on the day of harvest.
“CWD represents a great threat to the health of Missouri’s deer and elk herds and to our hunting culture,” said CWD Mandatory Sampling Coordinator Kevyn Wiskirchen. “Sampling deer for CWD allows early detection of the disease and allows for rapid management intervention to slow its spread. Hunters play a critical role in helping MDC find and manage CWD by having their deer sampled.”
Wiskirchen added, “Although sampling is voluntary this year, to help us detect CWD as early as possible and protect the state’s deer herd, we strongly encourage hunters in CWD Management Zone counties to have their deer sampled at one of our stations on opening weekend, or at other locations throughout the duration of deer season.”
MDC will be taking precautions to ensure the health of both staff and the public during CWD sampling. Social distancing will be practiced by MDC staff at all stations. MDC staff will wear gloves and face masks at all times. Hunters and those with them will be asked to remain in their vehicles while their deer is being sampled. Hunters will only be asked to provide county of harvest and will not be asked to identify harvest location on a map.
MDC asks hunters and others who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, have recently tested positive for COVID-19, or have a known COVID-19 exposure to refrain from visiting CWD sampling stations.
MDC will continue to offer statewide voluntary CWD sampling and testing of harvested deer during the entire deer season at select locations throughout the state, including participating MDC offices, cooperating taxidermists, and new freezer head-drop locations. Sampling and test results are free. Find locations and more information online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd or by contacting an MDC regional office.
MDC reminds deer hunters to follow carcass movement restrictions when traveling to a sampling station. Learn more at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/wildlife-diseases/chronic-wasting-disease-cwd/carcass-transport-and-disposal.
Before having deer sampled for CWD, MDC requests the following:
• Field dress and Telecheck deer before arrival at a sampling station.
• Bring the carcass or just the head.
• Position deer in vehicles with heads and necks easily accessible.
• Capes may be removed in preparation for taxidermy before going to a sampling station.
• The person who harvested the deer must be present.
• The hunter’s conservation number will be required, along with county of harvest.
• If using a paper permit, have it detached from the deer for easy access.
• If using the MO Hunting app, have permit and Telecheck information available.
CWD is a deadly disease in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, called cervids. The disease has no vaccine or cure and eventually kills all cervids it infects. There have been no reported cases of CWD infecting people, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends having deer tested for CWD if harvested in an area known to have the disease. The CDC also recommends not eating meat from animals that test positive for CWD.
Get more information on CWD and related regulations online at mdc.mo.gov/CWD, or from MDC’s 2020 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations & Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online at huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/fall-deer-and-turkey-hunting-regulations-and-information.