Cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) are growing significantly in North Dakota’s deer herd and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is taking notice.
This past Fall, eight additional cases were discovered, bringing the number of confirmed cases in hunted deer to 24 since 2009 when CWD was first found in the state.
Infected deer have been found in parts of south-central, west-central and northwestern North Dakota.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose.
It results in emaciation and death and can lead to long-term population declines if left unchecked. The Game and Fish Department said they are worried the numbers will only continue to increase.
“That infection rate is rarely static. It tends to increase with time, and so 3 percent is maybe OK, but if that climbs to 10 to 20 to 30 percent as it has elsewhere, then that will certainly have effects on populations,” said Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Charlie Bahnson.
He added that just 15 percent of hunters submit heads for testing in areas where CWD has been found, meaning the infection rate is likely higher.