The Missouri Department of Conservation is reporting that fall sampling for Chronic Wasting Disease resulted in seven new positive cases in the southern region of the state.

The cases were found in Ste. Genevieve and Perry counties.

One of the positive tests resulted from a deer found wandering a Ste. Genevieve County property that was visibly sick and unresponsive.

Matt Bowyer, wildlife regional supervisor, said a landowner called a conservation agent to report a sick deer wandering on their property.

“The deer was not alert and had that ‘wasting away’ physical appearance,” Bowyer said. “We advised the landowner to go ahead and put the deer down, and when the test results came back, it was positive for CWD.”

The deer was tested for Hemorrhagic Disease and CWD. To test for CWD, biologists sample lymph nodes from just below the skull of a deer. The test is always completed on deceased animals.

“Until this deer, our local positive cases were from deer taken during deer season or in management efforts,” Bowyer said. “Although the sickly appearance is what will eventually happen to a deer that has CWD, it takes a while for the disease to progress to that point, and the clinical sickness generally is short lived before the deer dies.”

Bowyer said it takes an average minimum of 18 months for CWD to become fatal.

As the disease continues to be present, the department will begin working with landowners in the CWD core area, which in southeast Missouri encompasses portions of Ste. Genevieve and Perry counties.

The conservation department has sent letters to landowners within two miles of any known CWD positive deer, with invitations to informational meetings in January.

“Especially now that we see CWD has spread within our management zone, we can’t stress enough the importance of landowners working with us to reduce the spread of the disease,” Bowyer said. “Our goal is a healthy, sustainable white-tailed deer population in these areas.”

The department states three actions that could help limit the spread of CWD:

Mineral blocks and grain feeders should not be used to supplement deer diets. Anywhere deer congregate unnaturally to feed, whether it’s at a mineral block or a grain feeder, can increase disease transmission. It’s better for deer to naturally graze as they move along, than for them to be up close and have a higher chance of picking up CWD positive prions from another deer.

Allow for deer to be tested and report abnormal behavior when found

All hunters should quarter their deer where they harvest it to avoid moving the deer carcass and spreading disease or take the carcass to a landfill.

For more information about CWD, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/cwd. Landowners who may be affected and would like to work with the conservation department to limit the spread of CWD can contact the Southeast Regional Office by phone at 573-290-5730 or by email at SERegion@mdc.mo.gov.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at margaret.slayton@newspressnow.com.