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The Missouri Conservation Commission approved the season dates for the 2018-2019 whitetail deer hunting seasons last week.

The Missouri Conservation Commission has approved the whitetail deer hunting season dates for 2018.

Barbara Keller, deer biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said there will be no changes to the formula used last year to determine season dates.

However, Keller said they have not yet approved permit or tag availability regulations for 2018. Officials will determine this spring if any changes to the number of deer harvested per person will be made for the fall seasons.

The 2018 – 2019 firearms deer hunting dates are as follows:

Firearms Deer Early Youth Portion: Oct. 27 and 28

Firearms Deer November Portion: Nov. 10 through 20

Firearms Deer Late Youth Portion: Nov. 23 through 25

Firearms Deer Antlerless Portion: Nov. 30 through Dec. 2

Firearms Deer Alternative Methods Portion: Dec. 22 through Jan. 1, 2019

The 2018-2019 archery deer and turkey hunting dates will be Sept. 15 through Nov. 9 and Nov. 21 through Jan. 15, 2019.

Keller said the department will release an assessment of the statewide deer harvest after this year’s archery deer season ends next month.

“Overall, our deer harvest seems to be trending up compared to last year,” Keller said. “We’ve had some increase in deer harvest relative to 2016.”

She said there was mandatory sampling of deer for chronic wasting disease in 25 counties during the opening weekend of the main November firearm season in 2017. The testing will determine if CWD, a deadly and contagious disease in whitetail deer, has been detected in those areas.

There were more than 10,000 deer hunters who participated in the department’s mandatory CWD sampling efforts in those counties with 15,872 tissue samples collected.

The department has begun receiving results of the tests from an independent laboratory at Colorado State University and expects to have all the samples tested by the end of the year.

Keller said there has so far been one confirmed positive in St. Clair County that was harvested near where two adult bucks tested positive for the disease last year.

She said a concern for the disease is that during recent hunting seasons it has been found in new areas.

“We are definitely seeing a geographic spread of the disease over time and the confirmed cases are being found a distance from each other,” Keller said. “The prevalence or number of positives that we have does not seem to be increasing significantly. Therefore, we have a relatively low prevalence in the state though the geographic areas that it covers is spreading.”

Margaret Slayton can be reached at npsports@newspressnow.com.