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Chronic wasting topic of meetings

Game and Fish Commission hosts agencies on deer illness by Bryan Hendricks | May 13, 2016 at 3:21 a.m.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is meeting with wildlife management professionals from other organizations to discuss strategies for containing chronic wasting disease in the state.

Attending the meeting are Brad Carner, chief of the Game and Fish Commission's wildlife management division; Cory Gray, the commission's deer project coordinator; Margaret Wild, lead veterinarian for the U.S. National Park Service Wildlife Management and Health Program; Michael Samuel, associate professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Michael Miller, senior wildlife veterinarian at the Colorado Division of Wildlife; and Don White Jr., associate professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Arkansas-Monticello.

Discussions began Thursday and will continue through today. Keith Stephens, chief of information for the Game and Fish Commission, said the group will discuss the latest research regarding chronic wasting disease, surveillance and management of the disease in the state.

"We want to hear what they have to say about the disease through their research and their experience," Stephens said. "Dr. Wild is from Colorado and has been studying CWD for the longest."

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological condition that affects deer, elk and moose. It is 100-percent fatal and unpreventable. It is spread through physical contact, as well as from saliva, mucous and urine.

Arkansas' first case of the disease was confirmed in February in an elk that was killed during a hunt last fall in Newton County. Subsequent testing of 266 whitetailed deer found 62 cases of chronic wasting disease in Newton and Boone counties. A road-killed deer in southern Pope County also tested positive for the disease, more than 40 miles outside the original sampling area.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has documented 88 animals -- 84 deer and four elk -- with the disease through testing since it was first confirmed Feb. 23 in the state.

Chronic wasting disease was first reported in 1967 in a captive elk near Fort Collins, Colo., and has spread to 24 states.

The disease also has been confirmed in Canada's Alberta and Saskatchewan provinces, and in Norway and South Korea.

State Desk on 05/13/2016

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