JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Department of Conservation announced Monday, June 11, that chronic wasting disease has been found in additional regions of Missouri. This discovery has expanded a deer feeding ban to include the following counties: Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Grundy, Madison, McDonald, Mercer and Perry.
The ban will go into effect beginning July 1 and the Wildlife Code of Missouri states “the placement of grain, salt products, minerals and other consumable natural and manufactured products is prohibited” in counties where CWD has been detected.
By prohibiting individuals from placing food or minerals out for deer, the Missouri Department of Conservation is hoping to limit the spread of CWD as much as possible.
“Because of new detection through our surveillance last year in southeast Missouri, as well as some new detection in Arkansas and southern Iowa we added these new counties that were within 25 miles of new detection,” said MDC Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten.
As Batten explained, the MDC has a Chronic Wasting Disease Management and Surveillance plan in place each year to monitor the development of the disease in counties throughout Missouri. The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone includes counties within approximately 25 miles of any CWD detection in Missouri or in bordering states.
Since 2012, the MDC has tested over 100,000 deer and only 75 tests have come back positive for CWD, Batten stated. So even though the regions under the feeding ban have grown to include 48 counties, Batten said CWD is not expected to be an epidemic for deer this year.
“While the disease seems to be relatively rare in Missouri, once the disease is well-established it’s very difficult to eliminate,” Batten said. “So we’re being aggressive in our management actions for that reason.”
CWD is spread either directly from deer-to-deer or indirectly through contact with food, water or soil that has been contaminated with the illness. The MDC works year-round to detect and manage the disease, but they also rely on the public’s help for further assistance. Anyone who notices deer that are extremely skinny and acting abnormally can report the siting to local MDC offices or local conservation agents, Batten said.
“Even outside of our management counties, feeding deer can have the potential to spread disease so if you can avoid feeding deer anywhere it’s a good idea,” Batten said. “But particularly for the CWD risk, I think it’s really important hunters understand that a carcass can spread the disease. So if you harvest a deer and you’re going to move that carcass, you really want to be disposing of it properly.”
In the best case scenario, Batten said hunters are encouraged to process the deer where it is found. If the deer carcass has to be moved and parts need to be disposed, she recommended discarding the carcass in a certified landfill.
Counties that are included within the feeding ban are as follows: Adair, Barry, Benton, Bollinger, Boone, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Gasconade, Grundy, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington.
To find a local MDC office, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website.