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story.lead_photo.caption Deer are abundant throughout Arkansas. Modern gun deer season opens on Saturday. (Courtesy photo/Arkansas Game and Fish Commission)

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is offering a variety of options to have harvested deer tested for chronic wasting disease for free throughout the 2020-21 deer hunting season.

Game and Fish is continuing its system of drop-off containers throughout the state, as well as its work with taxidermists and regional offices to pull samples for hunters and have them tested.

Hunters have 100 locations around Arkansas to drop off their deer's head for testing. An additional 52 taxidermists also will pull samples for hunters free of charge.

AJ Riggs, Game and Fish wildlife health biologist, said 6,622 samples were taken last year from deer killed by hunters.

"All testing on deer is completely voluntary, so we are happy with the number of people taking advantage of the opportunity to have their deer tested," he said.

No verified cases of chronic wasting disease being transmitted to humans currently exist. However, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly encourage everyone to have deer from a known positive area tested for the disease before consuming the meat. Testing also assists Game and Fish with ongoing disease surveillance in the state's deer herd.

To have a deer tested, bring the deer's head with 4 to 6 inches of the neck attached and any antlers removed to a testing location and place it in one of the provided plastic bags with your name and contact information on the card provided. Place the bag in the container.

Game and Fish will collect these samples and have them analyzed by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission laboratory. Testing results should be available within two to three weeks.

Test results will be posted through a secure system at www.agfc.com/cwd.

Drop-off containers are easy to use and most are open 24 hours a day.

Riggs said a hunter will be called if his deer tests positive.

Testing locations will remain open until Feb. 28, the last day of the archery deer season.

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A list of official testing locations for chronic wasting disease is available at www.agfc.com/cwd.

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