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The Missouri Department of Conservation is asking for the help of hunters to keep Chronic Wasting Disease from spreading to more deer in more areas of the state.

MDC staff will be conducting mandatory CWD sampling of harvested deer in 25 counties - including St. Francois and Washington counties - during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season Nov. 11-12.

Hunters who harvest deer in select counties of MDC’s CWD Management Zone during opening weekend must present their harvested deer at one of the Department’s 56 CWD sampling stations so staff can collect tissue samples to test the animal.

The 25 mandatory CWD sampling counties include: Adair, Barry, Benton, Cedar, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Moniteau, Ozark, Polk, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington.

The counties include those recently added to the CWD Management Zone after cases of CWD were found there in 2016-2017, counties with previous CWD positives, and counties very near where cases of CWD have been found.

Find mandatory sampling stations online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd, and in MDC’s 2017 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold.

MDC is also offering voluntary CWD sampling throughout the entire deer hunting season at more than 55 participating taxidermists and designated MDC offices in and around the CWD Management Zone. Find voluntary sampling locations online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.

EMPHASIS ON OPENING WEEKEND

Opening weekend of the firearms season is the most popular two hunting days for most deer hunters in Missouri. During those two days, hunters take about a third of the state’s total annual deer harvest of about 275,000 animals.

“Focusing on this key weekend gives us the best opportunity to collect the most tissue samples during a very concentrated time period,” explained MDC Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten. “Prior to conducting mandatory sampling for the first time last year, we collected about 7,600 tissue samples through voluntary sampling over the entire deer season. Thanks to deer hunters, last year we collected 19,200 samples during opening-weekend mandatory sampling.”

Batten added the increased number of samples collected gives MDC scientists a much better understanding of the distribution and prevalence of the disease -- where it is and how many deer may have it. It can also help find new cases in new areas.

Find more information on CWD from the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.

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