A white-tailed deer carcass recently recovered along a Texas road about 2.5 miles south of the Oklahoma border in the western Panhandle south of Felt, Okla., has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The CWD positive deer was found in an area of Texas with a history of CWD detection dating back 3 years. Although not inside of our borders, due to the proximity of this finding to Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has activated the next stage of the CWD Response Plan that was jointly produced with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
“With the ability of deer to easily travel many miles in a day, the CWD Response Plan dictates that we respond to this finding as if CWD has now been detected among free-roaming wild deer in Oklahoma,” said Jerry Shaw, Wildlife Programs Supervisor with ODWC.
CWD is an always-fatal neurological disease that affects the brains of deer, elk, moose, and other members of the cervid family, creating holes that resemble those in sponges. It’s important to note in this area of the state that CWD does not affect pronghorn antelope, and CWD transmission from wild animals to humans or livestock has never been documented either.
No CWD-positive wild deer have been found within Oklahoma’s borders. But CWD has been found in two captive elk herds in the state. CWD has been confirmed in wild cervids in every state surrounding Oklahoma. In total, 30 states now have detected CWD within their borders.
The Wildlife Department has conducted CWD monitoring on hunter-harvested deer and elk and road-killed deer since 1999. The disease has not been detected in laboratory testing of tissue samples from more than 10,000 wild deer and elk from throughout Oklahoma.
The Wildlife Department will continue monitoring for evidence of this disease within Oklahoma’s borders and will release additional information, including ways deer and elk hunters can help with detection and mitigation as hunting seasons approach. Additional guidelines or restrictions will be distributed and well-advertised if determined necessary to further protect Oklahoma’s deer and elk populations.
Additional human health information relating to CWD is available at https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nwhc/science/chronic-wasting-disease#publications.
For more information on the disease, how it could affect hunting, and proper disposal of infected animals, go to https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/resources/deer/cwd.