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19 more animals in state test positive for chronic wasting disease

by Bryan Hendricks | March 23, 2016 at 10:08 p.m.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission confirmed Wednesday that 18 more deer and one more elk in north Arkansas tested positive for chronic wasting disease, bringing the total number to 22.

The latest batch of samples contained 49 deer and elk, which means that the prevalence rate for chronic wasting disease is much higher than Game and Fish biologists anticipated, said Brad Carner, chief of the commission's wildlife management division. Four of the animals that tested positive for CWD came from outside the sampling area along the Buffalo River, including one that was collected in Boone County.

"It's pretty shocking," Carner said. "It is definitely way more prevalent and more widespread than we ever expected to see."

Carner said that he initially anticipated that the prevalence rate would be about 1 percent. The exact percentage is unknown because all the samples have not been completed, but 19 CWD-positive animals in a batch of 49 equals nearly 39 percent.

The Game and Fish Commission will suspend the killing of deer and elk in the original target area between Ponca and Pruitt, Carner said. Instead, biologists will try to determine how widespread the CWD is by collecting all road-killed deer and sick deer or deer in poor condition in a 50-mile range that will touch 20 counties.

Read Thursday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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