Biologists with the state Game and Fish Commission are asking Arkansans to report any dead deer they see along roads and highways.
Road-killed deer offer biologists a chance to monitor for chronic wasting disease throughout the state without the need to kill deer to obtain samples.
With the recent confirmation of a disease-positive deer found in Mississippi, 45 miles from the southeastern corner of Arkansas, biologists are hopeful that motorists in that area of the state will report any roadkill by calling 1-800-482-9262 as soon as possible.
Chris Middaugh, a Game and Fish biologist, said roadkill samples enable biologists to detect where chronic wasting disease may have spread.
“Road-killed deer have shown to have a higher probability of testing positive for CWD than random sampling because deer suffering from the disease may be less wary of danger or slower to react to the car,” Middaugh said. “Because of this higher probability, roadkill samples are very valuable in detecting the disease’s range.”
Jenn Ballard, veterinarian for Game and Fish, said the temperature is one of the main factors that dictate how long a sample from a road-killed deer is still good for testing. During summer, a sample may only be viable for a few hours after death, but during the cooler weather of spring, fall and winter, it may be possible to get a good sample from a deer a day or two after it dies.
Middaugh said although the Game and Fish is particularly concerned with the northwest part of the state, where the disease has been found in Arkansas, and the southeast corner of the state, near Mississippi’s positive case, roadkill samples are important throughout Arkansas to monitor any other possible areas that have not been identified.
“The Mississippi case is more confirmation that everyone should be vigilant and on the lookout for this disease, no matter what part of the state he or she is in,” Middaugh said. “In addition to road kills, any deer exhibiting signs of CWD should be reported immediately. The AGFC can send someone to deal with the deer and test it.”
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that affects members of the cervid family, which includes deer and elk. It is similar to “mad cow disease” in cattle. Infected animals will not show signs of disease for a long period of time, but late in the disease process they will be thin and may demonstrate weakness, abnormal behavior, excessive thirst or drooling.
Animals generally die soon after the onset of these signs. To date, 343 white-tailed deer and 14 elk have tested positive for the disease in the northwest portion of Arkansas. Visit www.arkansascwd.com for more information about the disease.
Print Headline: Road-killed deer tested for CWD