A white-tailed deer in the Oklahoma Panhandle has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) announced in a release this week. It marks the first time that CWD has been discovered in a wild deer in Oklahoma.
A Texas County landowner reported the deer to the ODWC after witnessing it behaving abnormally. The deer was recovered near Optima and testing was conducted.
ODWC has activated the next stage of the CWD Response Strategy jointly produced with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
“While this is unfortunate news, it is not unexpected since CWD has already been detected in every state that borders Oklahoma,” said Jerry Shaw, Wildlife Programs Supervisor with ODWC. “We will be working through our response plan to ensure we can monitor potential spread and keep our state’s deer herd healthy.”
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. The ODWC said it is important to note that CWD transmission from wild animals to people or to livestock has never been documented.
The Wildlife Department has conducted CWD monitoring on hunter-harvested deer and elk, and road-killed deer, since 1999. This case marks the first time the disease has 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 management plans 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, hunting regulations, and proper disposal of infected animals, go to https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/resources/deer/cwd.