Mandatory testing part of upcoming deer hunting season

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Columbia- This fall, Missouri deer hunters will have to make one more stop on the way home while reflecting on their kills. 

The Missouri Department of Conversation is preparing to set up 75 sample stations across 29 counties in northeast, east-central and central Missouri counties, including Boone County and Cole County, to test deer for Chronic Wasting Disease.  

On the opening weekend of deer hunting season in November, these stations will test and pull samples from deer to see if they are infected with CWD, which can lead to death.

“This year we really decided to ramp up testing to really get a better handle on where the disease is distributed, and really our success in this effort really keys on early detection. If we find it early we might be able to slow the spread of it. Once it’s widespread throughout the population we’ll have a very difficult time eradicating this disease,” Outreach and Education Regional Supervisor Shawn Gruber, says.

Gruber also said there has been a good amount of support by hunters but one manager at a gun and sporting shop says she has seen mixed reaction.

“We’ve seen a lot of mixed reactions so there are some people that are really upset about it. They don’t want to have to drive the extra ten minutes to take it to a check station if they kill a deer opening weekend. And then there’s people that just want to help as much as they can to keep CWD controlled or at least to learn more about it,” Powder Horn Guns & Sporting manager Kelsey Brandkamp said.

Gruber says that despite there being mixed reaction on the testing, it can have a positive impact on Missouri wildlife, mainly deer, for the future.

“We do have concerns that it may have an impact on the deer population in Missouri long-term which affects the 500,000 hunters and the two million Missouri wildlife watchers, which has an economic impact of about a billion dollars every year in Missouri, so it is a big deal so were taking it very seriously,” Gruber said.

Gruber also mentioned how Missouri can be a leader in this initiative for other states to follow.

“Many other states are doing voluntary sampling, from my understanding, Missouri is probably taking the monumental effort of going to this extent. I think Missouri will probably be a leader in this effort as far as trying to really get a lot of samples in a short amount of time.”

The testing will only be for the first weekend of deer season.

Hunters can either bring the whole deer or just the deer's head with six inches of the neck attached.