The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) has implemented its Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response Strategy following the confirmation of a CWD-positive white-tailed deer in the Oklahoma Panhandle.
Upon observing unusual behavior in the deer, a landowner from Texas County promptly reported the sighting to the ODWC. Subsequently, the deer was located near Optima and underwent testing, revealing it as the first case of CWD in a wild deer within Oklahoma.
In collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, ODWC has activated the next phase of its comprehensive CWD Response Strategy.
“While this news is regrettable, it is not entirely unexpected, as CWD has already been detected in all neighboring states,” remarked Jerry Shaw, Wildlife Programs Supervisor at ODWC. “We will diligently execute our response plan to monitor the potential spread and safeguard the well-being of our state’s deer population.”
CWD is a degenerative neurological disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and other cervid species, causing the formation of sponge-like holes in the brain. Importantly, there have been no documented cases of CWD transmission from wild animals to humans or livestock.
The Wildlife Department has been monitoring CWD among harvested deer, elk, and road-killed deer since 1999. Out of over 10,000 samples taken from wild deer and elk across Oklahoma, this is the first instance of laboratory testing confirming the presence of the disease.
Ongoing surveillance will continue within the state’s borders, with the Wildlife Department planning to provide further information, including measures for deer and elk hunters to aid in detection and mitigation, as hunting seasons approach.
If deemed necessary, the distribution and promotion of additional guidelines or management plans will be carried out to ensure the continued protection of Oklahoma’s deer and elk populations.
For more information on CWD, hunting regulations, and proper disposal of infected animals, please visit https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/hunting/resources/deer/cwd. Additionally, comprehensive human health information related to CWD can be found at https://www.usgs.gov/centers/nwhc/science/chronic-wasting-disease#publications.