By Chris Berens, D&DH Intern
After years of research and thousands of tests, Florida has zero cases of Chronic Wasting Disease in its white-tailed deer herd, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release said. The commission tested 910 wild deer last year and 5,519 over the last nine years, all testing negative for the contagious neurological disease.
"Early detection is the key to limiting the spread of the disease, if such an outbreak should occur in Florida," FWC’s deer coordinator and biologist Cory Morea said in the release. "We would like to obtain more samples of deer from areas adjacent to captive deer facilities, because the most likely way for CWD to be introduced into Florida is through importation of deer from other states."
Precautions against the disease include prohibition of importing live deer except those from herds that have been CWD-free for at least five years. In addition, deer, elk or moose carcasses may not be imported from the 19 states and two provinces that have verified cases of CWD; except for cleaned skulls, antlers, hides and deboned meat.
The FWC is asking hunters and citizens to report any deer that appears sick or is found dead from unknown causes. The disease does not affect humans, but it is recommended to leave these deer alone and contact the local game department office or warden. Florida’s CWD WATCH is part of the state’s monitoring program designed to stop the disease if it is ever discovered, and can be contacted at 1-866-CWD-WATCH.
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