Boone County removed from mandatory sampling of deer

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COLUMBIA – Hunters in Boone and Callaway counties are exempt from the mandatory sampling of deer for chronic wasting disease.

The hunting season will begin on Nov. 11, but CWD sampling is only required through the first weekend of the firearm season.

Boone and Callaway have been exempted from the list of 25 other counties that must have deer sampled. These 25 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.

Jasmine Batten, the wildlife disease coordinator at the Missouri Department of Conservation said she doesn’t believe the threat of CWD is existent in Boone and Callaway counties.

“Last year we tested about two thousand deer total in those two counties,” Batten said. “We can’t prove CWD is one hundred percent not out there, but our sampling tells us that if it is present, it’s at an extremely low level that we aren’t able to detect.”

Chronic wasting disease is an illness that affects white-tailed dear. Based on information from the Missouri Department of Conservation, CWD is untreatable and kills all deer infected by it.

The disease spreads through the deer population by direct contact with contaminated soil, water and food. CWD spreads at high rates when deer gather in large numbers.

“It may take an extremely long time before a deer shows symptoms,” Batten said. “Once they show up it will start losing weight, it will act weird, have excessive salivation, and looks poorly.”

Though the disease is rare, it can spread easily, as bucks may carry the infection too as they search for new areas and mates.

Batten said that hunters should take precaution and not consume deer meat during the six-week period it takes to test the deer.

“To date there are no known cases of CWD transmission to humans. However, we aren’t certain if there are risks, but the issue is still being researched,” Batten said.

Batten said hunters should report if they spot a deer acting strange, so the Department of Conservation can contain the disease.