JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Conservation began requesting voluntary farmers to harvest deer from farms to be tested for chronic wasting disease in the winter post-hunting season.
Currently, the department has initiated 5 different sampling areas including Linn, Franklin, Adair, Macon, and Cole- Moniteau counties.
The Missouri Department of Conservation began testing deer in 2001.
It hopes testing the meat will help it find a pattern of the growth of the disease in local deer, and appropriate disease management techniques.
Some voluntary landowners have been requested to submit as many as five deer for testing. If the meat does not test positive for the disease, it will be returned back to the farmers or landowners. Road kill or sick deer can also be accepted for testing.
As of January 2016, Missouri Department of Conservation announced a record of 33 free-ranging and captive deer infected with chronic wasting disease in counties across the state. Counties with infected deer included Macon, Adair, Cole, Franklin, and Linn.
The Department's website states chronic wasting disease as a slow progressive disease in members of the deer family. The disease's symptoms include lack of coordination and paralysis, excessive salivation, trouble swallowing, unusual behavior, and emaciation. It is believed to be caused by an abnormally folded prion protein, and can spread directly between deer and indirectly by infected soil or other surfaces.
Chronic wasting disease can be spread easily and cause mass death in groups of deer and elk. If a deer tests positive for the disease, counties within a 25-mile radius are labeled as a Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone. Statewide surveillance includes counties outside of the disease management zones, but are still subject to testing.
The department’s Wildlife Health Specialist and Surveillance Coordinator Jasmine Batten has been investigating the affects of CWD on deer.
"There is no known care or treatment for it," Batten stated, "it is a fatal disease."
She said the best prevention methods include educating the severity of CWD hunters and farmers, and limiting transportation of carcasses.
"Yearling males are more likely to disperse and spread the disease," Batten said.
Out of season testing in the sampling areas is planned to conclude March 15.