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Four more deer test positive for chronic wasting disease

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 9, 2013, at 6:29 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, March 10, 2013, at 12:35 a.m.

Four Kansas deer recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to Shane Hesting, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism disease biologist. The department has been testing for the disease that’s always fatal in deer, but has never been found in livestock or humans, for about 15 years.

Hesting said the deer came from Ellis, Norton, Sherman and Trego counties. It’s the first such case from Ellis County.

CWD was first found in a lone deer in Cheyenne County, in extreme northwest Kansas, in 2005. It’s since moved steadily eastward and southward. To date 52 Kansas animals have tested positive for the disease from more than 20,000 tested. In 2011, eight Kansas deer tested positive for the disease. One was from Stafford County, the closest case to Wichita. A deer killed in Sumner County the same year was initially classified as infected, but it later tested negative.

Hesting said Wildlife and Parks’ testing program has changed since the loss of federal funding this year. Only about 375 deer were tested this year, compared to about 2,500 in 2012. To get the most from the limited sample budget, Hesting said Wildlife and Parks is testing different regions of the state annually.

They’re also focusing their testing on mature animals, since they have a higher chance of contracting the contagious disease. All four of the recent positives were bucks at least 3 1/2 years old. Three were shot by hunters. The other was found leaning against a wall in Norton County, emaciated and drooling in October. A game warden killed the animal and submitted it for testing.

CWD was first found along the Colorado/Wyoming border in the mid-1960s, and has recently been found as far east as Pennsylvania and New York.

Youth turkey huunt — A special turkey hunt for youth ages 11 to 16 will be held April 6 at Council Grove Reservoir.

The event is jointly sponsored by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation.

Brent Konen, hunt director, hopes to accommodate 15 kids on the hunt. Preference will be given to youths who have never hunted wild turkeys or never shot a wild turkey.

Last year eight of 15 youths got at least one bird, and all participants saw or heard turkeys.

Youths can arrive the evening before the hunt to pattern their shotguns, meet with their local guide and scout turkeys until dark.

For more information call Konen at 620-767-5900.

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