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Hunters are asked to help the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission by having this season’s harvested deer tested for chronic wasting disease at one of more than 100 free testing locations across the state.

“This is not a food safety test, and there’s no confirmed evidence of a human ever getting CWD from eating venison, but we still want to offer our hunters this free test to keep them enjoying the sport of deer hunting,” said A.J. Riggs, wildlife health biologist with Game and Fish.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends all hunters who are hunting in areas where the disease is known to be present have their deer tested and not consume any animal known to be sick of any disease.

This year Game and Fish will have 100 drop-off containers placed throughout the state to take samples from any hunter who wants to submit one. Riggs said the agency has worked hard to supply at least one test site in every county, with counties in the chronic wasting disease management zone having multiple options.

Game and Fish hope to see more voluntary samples from Jackson and Independence counties, which were added to the management zone this year, Riggs said. The commission hopes to gauge disease prevalence and spatial distribution in those counties.

To submit a test at one of the containers, a hunter simply removes the deer’s head with at least 4 inches of neck still attached at its base, removes any antlers, places the head in a bag that’s provided at the freezer and places it inside with contact information. The stub from their contact information will guide them to find their test results.

“If we receive a positive result, Game and Fish staff will contact the hunter directly by the phone number provided with the sample,” Riggs said. “We will then make arrangements with the hunter to pick up any meat they no longer want and can provide an additional deer tag to harvest a doe to make up for the lost meat.”

Riggs said test results are usually available within two to three weeks. Game and Fish has partnered with the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Little Rock to help complete the testing in a timely manner.

In addition to drop-off locations, Game and Fish has a network of taxidermists who will collect and submit samples for free.

CWD testing sites

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has established more than 100 locations in the state for hunters to leave samples of deer to be tested for chronic wasting disease.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for locations.

Source: Arkansas Game and Fish

Print Headline: Free CWD testing available

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