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Chronic wasting disease tests in 2012 came back negative

After one positive test in each of the last three straight years, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department received good news on chronic wasting disease. All 1,300 tests came back negative.

As relieving as that sounds, NDGF assistant wildlife chief Jeb Williams said there are no plans to discontinue testing throughout the state.

"This is an important issue and it's something we plan to work into our annual maintenance of managing the deer herd in North Dakota," Williams said. "We have specific units set up and it's on a rotation basis. We have no reason to do away with testing right now."

Though he did say having one year of no positive is uplifting.

"There's no doubt once that comes back that we don't have any positives," Williams said. "We think that's a good thing, but is it going to slow us down for future testing. No, we think it's our responsibility to inform hunters and keep sportsman in loop with deer in North Dakota."

CWD has tested positive in one unit in North Dakota. That unit is 3F2, which is located in south-central part of the state that runs along Mott, Carson and Fort Yates and it's tested every single year. All three positive tests were within 15 miles of each other.

The NDGF rotates its surveys each season into thirds separated by western, central and eastern. However, Williams said hunters are always welcome to bring in samples during any season. He went on further saying the NDGF wouldn't have the efforts it does without the assistance of hunters across the state.

"We are really thankful to the sporting community for participating in the sampling processing," Williams said. "We know that sportsman in North Dakota do rise to those challenges to participate in different efforts."

Testing for CWD began in 2002, but didn't see its first positive test until 2009. In the last 10 years of collecting samples, the NDGF has had more than 23,000 deer, elk and moose test negative for CWD.

"As always, the success of our surveillance program could not be accomplished without the cooperative efforts of hunters, meat processors and taxidermists," said Dan Grove, NDGF wildlife veterinarian, in a press release.

As spring continues to draw near, the NDGF said it's too early to tell if Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is going to impact the white-tail deer season. Williams said it won't be determine until months from now.

"It's too early to tell right now," he said. "If you have wet conditions early on in the spring and things dry up toward the fall, it creates mud flats and the really good breeding habitat for that biting midge that carries the EHD virus.

"EHD is always present in western North Dakota. It's something that's always on the landscape. There are several different critters that carry EHD."