Boone and Callaway countiesare exempt from mandatory chronic wasting disease sampling of deer this fall. The season begins Nov. 11, with sampling occurring during the first weekend, and ends Nov. 21.
Boone and Callaway have been excluded from the mandatory tests, because no deer in those counties have been found to have chronic wasting disease. The mandatory zone includes 25 other counties.
The Missouri Department of Conservation sampled 1,654 deer in Boone County and 2,219 deer in Callaway County between July 1, 2016, and June 30. In 2016, more than 25,500 deer were sampled in Missouri.
”We really try to focus our efforts on those areas either where or around where more recent cases have been found,” Missouri Department of Conservation spokesman Joe Jerek said. The closest case was in Cole County in 2014, Jerek said.
Mandatory sampling tracks counties with infected deer and nearby areas to better understand the distribution of the disease and eventually slow its spread.
Chronic wasting disease spreads from deer to deer through direct contact and contact with contaminated soil, food and water, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation ‘s website. It is deadly in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, and there is no vaccine or cure. Once the disease is established, it spreads to new areas and can’t be eliminated.
Since the disease was first detected in Missouri in 2010, a total of 42 infected deer have been confirmed.
During opening weekend, deer hunters in 25 counties will still be required to take harvested deer to stations for testing. The counties include: Adair, Barry, Benton, Cedar, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Moniteau, Ozark, Polk, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington.
“Focusing on this key weekend gives us the best opportunity to collect the most tissue samples during a very concentrated time period,” Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten said in a news release.
Voluntary sampling is also offered throughout the entire deer hunting season at taxidermists and at designated Department of Conservation offices.
Researchers have not found a case where the disease has infected humans, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not eating meat from infected deer. Studies have shown that there may be a risk to humans, according to the CDC.
Sampling stations and further information on the testing can be found on the Department‘s website.