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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

MO Conservation Dept. Updates Plan to Combat Fatal Disease in Deer

Two white-tailed deer, alert to the sounds not far off in the woods near Hartford, Wisconsin in mid-February.
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Chronic wasting disease has been detected among cervids; deer, elk, and moose. So far, there is no cure or treatment.

The Missouri Department of Conservation wants public input on changes to its plan to manage Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), among white-tailed deer.

CWD is a fatal and contagious disease affecting members of the deer family, with no known treatment or cure. It was first detected in north central Missouri in 2010.

Jason Isabelle, cervid program manager for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said since then, it has spread to other parts of the state. He explained the plan calls for continued disease surveillance across the state, as well as making sure there are enough opportunities for hunters to get their deer samples tested.

"Deer are a cherished natural resource of the state and vital to the economy," Isabelle contended. "We have nearly half a million deer hunters in the state and lots of other folks that just enjoy the resource. So, there's a lot at stake here."

Other aspects of the plan include research, communication and management, including carcass transport regulations, and giving hunters more opportunities to harvest deer. The public comment period on Missouri's plan runs through August 8.

Mike Leahy, director of wildlife, hunting, and fishing policy for the National Wildlife Federation, said there is an important bill before Congress to use federal funds to tackle the issue. It has passed the House and is now before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

"The CWD Research and Management Act provides funding for states and tribes to research and respond to the threat of CWD," Leahy outlined. "Addressing the transmission, and detection and suppression, of the disease as well as applied research into management practices."

He added it includes a rapid-response fund for controlling outbreaks as quickly as possible. Current research shows CWD does not pose a health risk to humans, although scientists still recommend against consuming meat from infected animals.

Missouri News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Originally from just outside Boston, Lily Bohlke is formerly from 2020Talks, a show tracking politics and elections, that started prior to the 2020 Iowa caucuses at KHOI in Ames. She's also a past intern for the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism.