A hunter-harvested white-tailed deer taken west of Delaware in Logan County tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Research, Evaluation and Compliance Division.
The adult male deer was harvested Oct. 18 and voluntary samples were submitted from the hunter through the agency's drop-off location in Logan County. The sample originally tested positive on Nov. 3 through the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission's laboratory in Little Rock, and the hunter was notified of the result.
Following the standard protocol for a positive in a new county, the sample was then sent to the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison for confirmation.
"The deer was in poor condition, and the hunter saw signs of illness before taking the animal," said A.J. Riggs, wildlife health biologist for the commission. "He submitted a sample at the Logan County sample collection site and disposed of the carcass by incinerating it."
Riggs stressed that although this deer's appearance and behavior were obvious to the hunter as a possible case of chronic wasting disease, a deer or elk can have it for months before showing any signs. Likewise, a deer in poor condition does not necessarily have the disease, as there are other diseases and maladies that can affect white-tailed deer in the wild.
It's always best to get deer tested, regardless of how healthy it looks, when hunting in a known wasting disease management zone, Riggs said.
"We have 100 testing locations throughout the state; please use them."
Logan County already resides within the management zone because other positive deer were found within 10 miles of the county's border.
Riggs does not expect any changes to deer hunting regulations to take place from the positive result.
Hunters who wish to have their deer tested can voluntarily take the head of the deer with about 6 inches of neck still attached to one of the agency's network of participating taxidermists to have a sample tested for free. They may also drop the head off at one of dozens of testing collection stations positioned throughout the state. Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for a list of testing locations.
The chronic wasting disease management zone includes Baxter, Benton, Boone, Carroll, Crawford, Franklin, Independence, Jackson, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Stone, Van Buren, Washington and Yell counties.
The disease was first detected in Arkansas in February 2016. Research indicates wasting disease is caused by a misfolded protein called a prion that is transmitted through feces, urine and saliva, and can survive for years in soil and plants.