Archery deer season starts Sept. 23, and many deer hunters want to get their deer tested for chronic wasting disease.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will collect samples to test for chronic wasting disease from deer that hunters kill during opening weekend of the modern gun deer season Nov. 11-12 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the 11 counties that comprise the state's chronic wasting disease management zone.
Those counties are Newton, Searcy, Madison, Carroll, Boone, Marion, Johnson, Pope, Logan and Yell.
The testing locations will be at the following locations:
Boone County: Lead Hill Saddle Club Arena, 103 Park Drive, Lead Hill.
Carroll County: AmeriGas office at 142 U.S. Hwy 62 W. in Berryville; Osage Clay Works at 16501 State Hwy. 103, Osage.
Johnson County: Hagarville Grocery and Station at 11925 State Hwy. 123, Hagarville.
Logan County: U.S. Forest Service office at 2190 E. Main St., Booneville.
Madison County: Combs Store and Cafe at 10342 State Hwy. 16, Combs; Madison County Wildlife Management Area, 272 Madison County Rd. 1235, Huntsville.
Marion County: Yellville City Park, State Hwy. 14, Yellville.
Newton County: Arkansas Forestry Commission office, Western Grove; National Park Service Maintenance Shop, Marble Falls; U.S. Forest Service office, 18360 State Hwy. 16 W., Deer.
Pope County: Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department storage facility, State Hwy. 7, near Pelsor; Arkansas Game and Fish Commission regional office, 1266 Lock and Dam Road, Russellville.
Searcy County: Crockett's Country Store and Buffalo River Canoe Rentals at State Hwys. 14/27; Searcy County Airport, 894 Airport Road, Marshall.
Van Buren County: Drop Dead Outdoors at 123 South Hills Drive, Damascus.
Yell County: The U.S. Forest Service Work Center at 20557 State Hwy. 27 S., Rover.
Beyond those counties, the AGFC is working to finalize contracts with taxidermists and veterinarians to collect chronic wasting disease samples from deer that hunters kill in all of the deer seasons, said Cory Gray, manager of the commission's Research, Evaluation and Compliance Division. The commission will post those resources on its website when providers complete their paperwork.
The AGFC will continue focusing its testing efforts within the chronic wasting disease management zone this year, Gray said, but he advised deer hunters all over the state to observe closely the behavior and physical condition of any deer they kill.
"People are more aware and more observant of animals health than they were, but be more sensitive and aware of what an animal looks like prior to your harvesting it," Gray said. "How was it holding its head? How was it acting when it walked into a clearing or into a food plot?"
If you see a sick or abnormal deer, call the commission's chronic wasting disease hotline at (800) 364-9262.
"Any sick animal you come across regardless of where you are in the state, you need to call," Gray said. "Those are top priority samples."
If you want to have your deer tested for chronic wasting disease, it's important to take proper care of the carcass in the field.
"The samples we need will come out of the head and neck," Gray said. "Remove the head with 4 to 6 inches of neck remaining."
And keep it cold.
"Place it on ice and keep it in cold storage until you're able to get it tested," Gray said. "Keep it cool. That's the most important thing."
The AGFC repeats that there is no known instance of humans contracting chronic wasting disease from an infected cervid, such as a deer or elk, but Gray said that recent research has increased the level of concern in the health and wildlife management professions.
"There's no documentation that this disease can go into humans, but the macaque studies raise alarm and concern," Gray said, "and the Centers for Disease Control strongly encourages hunters to get their game tested."
Hunters who have their deer tested for chronic wasting disease through the AGFC will not be charged, Gray said. Tests conducted by providers outside of the AGFC network might charge a fee.
Test results from an AGFC sanctioned provider will be available within 7-10 days, Gray said.
Testing your deer for chronic wasting disease will provide valuable data for the AGFC, but more importantly, it will give hunters peace of mind that the venison they feed their families will be safe to eat.
Sports on 09/10/2017