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First-ever Montgomery County deer tests positive for chronic wasting disease

Department needs hunters cooperation to prevent further spread of this disease

Whitetail Deer
Whitetail Deer (Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – Wildlife officials are alerting people to a diseased deer killed in Montgomery County.

On Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources announced that a deer killed in the county and brought to a taxidermist in late November 2020 has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

At the time of kill, the hunter did not notice any outward signs of disease and the deer appeared to be in good condition, according to DWR.

The department does not believe this case is linked to any prior CWD cases, as the closest documented case was more than 160 miles away in Madison County.

During the 2020 – 2021 deer hunting season, cooperating taxidermists submitted samples from over 2,600 deer and the only CWD detection to result from this statewide effort was this Montgomery County deer, according to DWR.

As part of the department’s CWD Management plan, a new disease management area has been created and includes Floyd, Montgomery, and Pulaski counties.

Actions to control the spread of the disease are now in effect and include the following:

  • Ban on white-tailed deer fawn rehabilitation in those counties
  • Restricted transport of whole deer carcasses and any parts containing brain or spinal cord tissue out of those counties
  • Ban on feeding of deer year-round in Bland, Carroll, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Roanoke, and Wythe counties, and in the cities of Radford, Roanoke, and Salem.

In these three counties, DWR will also be making the following recommendations at a May 27 Board of Wildlife Resources meeting

  • Adding both an early and a late antlerless-only deer seasons in an approximately 40 square-mile Disease Focus Zone, located in the vicinity of the CWD detection
  • Extending the general firearms deer season from two to four weeks in Montgomery and Pulaski counties, matching Floyd’s existing general firearms season
  • Removing antler point restrictions from the Fairystone quality deer management area

CWD has been confirmed in 26 states and three Canadian provinces and in Virginia, DWR reports that a total of 109 deer have tested positive for the disease since 2009.

The incurable disease, found in deer, elk, and moose in North America, is a slow-acting and progressive neurologic disease that ultimately results in death of the animal. It can be spread through the urine, feces, and saliva of infected animals.

While there’s no evidence that it can be transmitted naturally to humans, pets or livestock [with the exception of pigs], the CDC recommends hunters test all deer harvested from known CWD-positive areas, wait until test results are received prior to consuming the meat, and do not consume any meat from animals that test positive for the disease.

About the Author:

Jeff Williamson arrived at WSLS 10 in March 2016.