Chronic wasting disease in Divide County

Three deer taken during the 2018 North Dakota deer gun season have been confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease, according to Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. While two of the positive deer were taken in unit 3F2, an area of North Dakota known to have CWD, the third was taken from Divide County in deer unit 3A1, previously considered free of CWD.

“Unfortunately, the positive deer in Divide County doesn’t come as a big surprise, since CWD was found in Saskatchewan just a few miles north of Portal last spring,” Bahnson said. “Our focus needs to now shift to taking measures to limit the spread of CWD within Divide County and to reduce the chances of it being introduced to new parts of the state.”

CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked. Since 2009, 14 CWD-positive deer have been found in North Dakota, and all previous cases were from within hunting unit 3F2, which includes parts of Sioux, Grant, Morton, Hettinger and Adams counties in southwestern North Dakota.

“Over the last several years, we have found it in less than 1 percent of the deer tested from 3F2,” said Bahnsen. “That’s a number that we can live with, but if that number starts to climb, there will be real impacts to our deer herd. There is no treatment or vaccine for CWD and once it’s in an area, it’s there indefinitely. CWD is the most serious disease threat to the future of big-game hunting in North Dakota.”

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