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Source: US State of Missouri

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – COVID-19 has changed the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) chronic wasting disease (CWD) sample collection procedure during the opening weekend of the November firearms season to a voluntary process this year. However, MDC wants to remind hunters that there are still ways to cooperate in the state’s search for this devastating deer disease.

On Nov. 14-15, the opening weekend of this year’s November firearms deer season, the sample collection in the 30 counties that comprise this year’s CWD Management Zone (MZ) will be voluntary. Beginning in 2016, sample collection in CWD MZ counties had been mandatory during the opening weekend of the November firearms season. This year’s change to voluntary was prompted by ongoing COVID-19 cases and public health concerns surrounding the pandemic throughout the state.

Although this year’s sample collection is voluntary, MDC staff will still be working at sample collection sites in CWD MZ counties on opening weekend to get samples from hunters who want to have their harvest sampled. Counties are in the CWD MZ either because the disease has been found in those counties or they are within 10 miles of a site where a positive find has occurred. The CWD MZ counties in MDC’s 12-county Ozark Region are Howell, Oregon, and Ozark. A complete list of counties that comprise the state’s CWD MZ this year – and the locations of the sample collection sites in those counties – can be found in MDC’s “2020 Fall Deer & Turkey” regulations book, a free publication available at all places that sell hunting permits and at most MDC offices, and online at

https://huntfish.mdc.mo/gov/sites/default/files/downloads/2020FDT.pdf

In addition to these locations, hunters in Pulaski County will also have two sites where they can have samples collected on Nov. 14-15. The reason these locations aren’t in this year’s deer and turkey regulations book is because CWD’s presence in Pulaski County was confirmed just a few weeks ago, in late October, which was well after the publication had been printed and distributed. The two voluntary CWD sample collection sites that will be staffed Nov. 14-15 are:

  • Richland High School, 714 E. Jefferson Ave., Richland
  • Waynesville Fire Training Center, 25785 Red Oak Road, Waynesville

CWD is a disease of the central nervous system that is fatal to deer and other members of the deer family. The disease was first confirmed in Missouri’s free-ranging deer 2012 but CWD has been maintained at a low prevalence due to intensive surveillance and management of the disease – more than 137,000 deer have been tested since the disease was discovered and only 163 of those tests have been positive. Hunter participation plays a key role in Missouri’s ongoing fight against CWD.

“CWD represents a great threat to the health of Missouri’s deer and elk herds and to our hunting culture,” said MDC’s CWD Sampling Coordinator Kevyn Wiskerchen. “Sampling deer for CWD allows early detection of the disease and allows for rapid management intervention to slow its spread. Hunters play a key role in helping MDC find and manage CWD by having their deer sampled.”

Before arriving at a voluntary sample collection sites, hunters are asked to:

  • Field dress and Telecheck their deer
  • Position the deer in vehicles with head and necks easily accessible if they’re bringing in the carcass. (Heads with six inches of neck attached can be brought to collection sites, too).
  • Capes may be removed in preparation for taxidermy before going to a sample collection station.
  • The person who harvested the deer must be present. Hunters and other members of their party will be asked to remain in their vehicles as a precautionary health measure.
  • The hunter’s conservation number will be required, along with county of harvest.
  • If using a paper permit, have it detached from the deer for easy access.
  • If using the MO Hunting app, have permit and Telecheck information available.

In addition to the voluntary sample collection being conducted on Nov. 14-15, MDC is also providing drop-off sites with freezers through Jan. 15 for hunters wishing to have their deer tested for CWD. At these voluntary deer head drop-off freezer sites, hunters should leave the head with six inches of neck attached and the antlers removed. The drop-off freezers boxes have instructions and materials hunters will need to provide information. Hunters will be able to check test results online using their Telecheck ID at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZuE. MDC will notify a hunter directly if a sample tests positive for CWD. Hunters should note these sites will not be available for drop-offs this Saturday or Sunday (Nov. 14-15).

The deer head drop-off sites in MDC’s Ozark Region are:

  • MDC Ozark Regional Office, 551 Joe Jones Blvd. West Plains, (Howell County)
  • MDC Alton Forestry Shop, Old Cane Bluff Road on Highway 19 just north of U.S. Highway 160 (Oregon County)
  • Thayer Police Department, 102 Front Street, Thayer (Oregon County)
  • Ozark County Soil and Water Conservation District Office, 206 N. Main Street, Suite 1E, Gainesville (Ozark County)

Outside of this upcoming weekend (Nov. 14-15), hunters can also have samples collected at some taxidermy businesses and processing plants in the area. Information and addresses on these locations can be found at:

https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/wildlife-diseases/chronic-wasting-disease-cwd/voluntary-cwd-sampling-statewide-all

There is no fee for the voluntary CWD testing MDC is conducting across the state. Hunters also need to be aware of all carcass movement restrictions that pertain to deer harvested in CWD MZ counties. Information on those restrictions, and about CWD, can be found at:

https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/wildlife-diseases/chronic-wasting-disease-cwd

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