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Mule deer from western Grant County tests positive for CWD

BISMARCK -- A mule deer taken from a southwest North Dakota hunting unit during the deer gun season has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said Monday.

Dr. Dan Grove, a wildlife veterinarian in the Game and Fish Department, said a hunter shot the adult buck in western Grant County and submitted the head for testing as part of the hunter-harvested surveillance program. 

The unit, 3F2, encompasses Sioux County, southern Grant County, southeast Hettinger County, eastarn Adams County and the southern tip of Morton County.

According to Grove, the hunter said the animal looked healthy and had no visible signs of having any health issues.

This is the fourth deer, and first buck, to test positive for CWD since 2009, and all were from taken from unit 3F2 in southwestern North Dakota. All four were within the same general area. The hunter-harvested surveillance program annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state.

Testing was performed at Michigan State University. Game and Fish is awaiting verification of initial tests results from a national lab in Ames, Iowa. The Michigan State lab still has some 3F2 samples to test, as well as all samples from the eastern third of the state.

In addition to unit 3F2, samples during the 2013 deer gun season were collected from units in the eastern third of the state.

Chronic wasting disease affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.