Chronic Wasting Disease detected in Montgomery County for the first time, Virginia DWR says

New River Valley News

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has confirmed chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a 2.5-year-old male deer legally harvested in southwestern Montgomery County, marking the county’s first case of CWD.

DWR says the deer was brought to a taxidermist in late November of 2020. They obtained the sample in January as part of the department’s statewide CWD surveillance efforts.

At the time of harvest, the hunter says they did not notice any signs of the disease and the deer appeared to be in good condition.

At this point, there is no evidence of a link between the new occurrence and prior occurrences in the state. The deer was harvested more than 160 miles from the closest prior detection in Madison County, east of Harrisonburg.

Due to the significant distance from the nearest CWD-positive deer, the DWR conducted an extensive forensic investigation to confirm the harvest location of the deer.

In accordance with DWR’s CWD Management Plan, a new disease management area (DMA3) has been created which includes Floyd, Montgomery and Pulaski Counties.

Regulatory actions to control the spread of CWD does into effect immediately and includes the following:

  1. Prohibition on white-tailed deer fawn rehabilitation in DMA3.
  2. Restricted transport of whole deer carcasses and any parts containing brain or spinal cord tissue out of DMA3. For more information on deer carcass transport restrictions, click here.
  3. Prohibition on feeding of deer year-round in Bland, Carroll, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Roanoke, and Wythe counties, as well as in the cities of Radford, Roanoke, and Salem.

In addition, DWR will be recommending at the May 27 Board of Wildlife Resources meeting that public comment be obtained on the following regulation changes for DMA3:

  1. Addition of early and late antlerless-only deer seasons in an approximately 40 square-mile Disease Focus Zone, which is located in the vicinity of the CWD detection.
  2. Extension of the general firearms deer season from two weeks to four weeks in Montgomery and Pulaski counties, matching the existing general firearms season in Floyd County.
  3. Removal of antler point restrictions from the Fairystone quality deer management area.

These proposed changes in regulation will be advertised for public comment by mid-June. Click here for information on how to submit public comments. If approved by the Board later this summer, the changes will begin during the 2021-22 deer hunting season.

An extensive CWD testing effort throughout DMA 3 will be done by DWR in certain surrounding counties during the next deer hunting season to further investigate the detection.

They say that cooperation from area hunters is critical.

Additional information will be provided in the annual hunting and trapping booklet and on the DWR DMA3 website by clicking here regarding how hunters can submit deer for testing during upcoming deer seasons.

The DWR will hold public meetings in DMA3 prior to the deer hunting season and will post details about those public meeting dates and formats at this link by July 31.

DWR has been closely monitoring CWD prevalence and spread in the northwestern part of the state (DMA1 and DMA 2) for over a decade.

Across the rest of the state, DWR has been conducting CWD surveillance for the past three years with the aid of cooperating taxidermists.

During this last deer hunting season, cooperating taxidermists submitted samples from more than 2,600 deer.

The only detection of CWD across Virginia was with this deer in Montgomery County.

CWD has been confirmed in 26 states and three provinces in Canada.

In Virginia a total of 109 deer have tested positive for CWD since 2009.

In North America, this incurable disease can be found in deer, elk and moose. Experts say CWD is a slow-acting and progressive neurologic disease that ultimately results in the death of the animal.

The disease-causing agent is spread through the urine, feces, and saliva of infected animals.

Clinical signs of CWD – which typically does not develop for several months to over a year after exposure – includes the following:

  • Staggering
  • Abnormal posture
  • Lowered head
  • Drooling
  • Confusion
  • Marked weight loss

DWR says there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans, pets or livestock – with the possible exception of pigs – however, the CDC recommends hunters test all harvested deer and wait until the results are received prior to consuming the meat and, of course, do not consume meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.

You can find regulations regarding CWD, maps of affected states, and information about CWD can be found on the DWR website.

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