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Missouri Conservation Commission Tries To Stop Chronic Wasting Disease In Wild Deer

Deer may look cute, but a St. Louis County woman had a painful encounter with one this morning in Ellisville.
(via Flickr/Ian Sane)
Deer may look cute, but a St. Louis County woman had a painful encounter with one this morning in Ellisville.

Missouri's Conservation Commission voted unanimously Friday to adopt a list of recommendations designed to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, from captive white tail deer to the wild population.

The recommendations primarily target privately owned fields, pens and reserves where trophy deer are raised to be hunted.  Mike Hubbard, chief of the Department of Conservation's (MDC) Resource Science Division, says the recommendations include banning the import of white tail deer, mule deer and their hybrids into Missouri.

"There's no approved live animal test for Chronic Wasting Disease; that's been stated several times," Hubbard said.  "Healthy-appearing animals can have the disease for months, if not years, and (while) moving around, may end up never being tested under current guidelines."

Private owners would also be required to keep their deer at their licensed reserves at all times. Exemptions that currently allow deer to be transported to temporary exhibits and auction sites would be permanently revoked.

"The reality is we need to be able not just to track the movement of white tail deer through time, but we also need to be able to determine all the animal associations that are occurring during those movements," Hubbard said.

An open comment period on the recommendations will run from July 16-Aug. 14.  After that, they will either be added to the state's wildlife code as-is, amended, or rejected.  Other recommendations include:

  • Improving fencing requirements for captive-cervid facilities
  • Requiring all deer age 6 months or older that die in an MDC-licensed facility to be tested for CWD
  • Establishing better record-keeping requirements for MDC-licensed captive-cervid operations
  • Prohibiting any new captive-cervid facilities within 25 miles of where CWD has been confirmed

Chronic Wasting Disease was first detected in northern Missouri four years ago at private hunting reserves in Linn and Macon counties, and a few free-ranging deer near the preserves were also found to be infected.  The disease is 100 percent fatal, has no cure, and can currently only be detected once a deer in question is dead.
Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.