For the first time in documented history – a deer in North Dakota died due to complications of chronic wasting disease or CWD.
According to state game and fish, a white-tailed deer found dead just south of Williston in late February tested positive for the disease.
The deer was severely emaciated and had an empty digestive tract, game and fish officials say this is unusual and means the deer stopped trying to forage some time ago.
Game and Fish says the news is rough because it means CWD is further south than they thought.
This is the 15th confirmed case of the disease since 2009.
This is also the first documented case of death due to CWD.
“All 14 previous detections were perfectly healthy-looking deer that were hunter-harvested before they got sick,” said Dr. Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. “This deer was severely emaciated and had an empty digestive tract, which is unusual even in starvation cases that can occur in harder winters like this one. This deer stopped trying to forage some time ago.”
CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked.
Since 2009, 14 other deer have tested positive for CWD in North Dakota – 13 from Grant and Sioux counties in hunting unit 3F2 in the southwest, and the other taken last fall from the northwest in Divide County.
More information about CWD and regulations regarding CWD are available on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.