Re­port road-killed deer to help AGFC mon­i­tor CWD disease

The Weekly Vista - - News - RANDY ZELLERS AGFC Com­mu­ni­ca­tions

LIT­TLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Com­mis­sion will be ramp­ing up ef­forts at disease-mon­i­tor­ing sur­veys, be­gin­ning Sept. 17, and are ask­ing mo­torists to help by re­port­ing any road-killed deer they see along Arkansas’ roads and high­ways.

Road-killed deer of­fer bi­ol­o­gists a chance to mon­i­tor for chronic wast­ing disease through­out the state with­out the need to kill deer to ob­tain sam­ples.

Chris Mid­daugh, a re­search bi­ol­o­gist for the AGFC, says road­kill sam­ples en­able bi­ol­o­gists to de­tect where CWD may have spread.

“Road-killed deer have shown to have a higher prob­a­bil­ity of test­ing pos­i­tive for CWD than ran­dom sam­pling be­cause deer suf­fer­ing from the disease may be less wary of dan­ger or slower to re­act to the car,” Mid­daugh said. “Be­cause of this higher prob­a­bil­ity, road­kill sam­ples are very valu­able in de­tect­ing the disease’s range.”

Ac­cord­ing to AJ Riggs, wildlife health bi­ol­o­gist for the AGFC, the in­creased ef­fort dur­ing spring and fall cor­re­lates with in­creases in deer-ve­hi­cle col­li­sions dur­ing these times.

“Dur­ing the first year of sam­pling, which was year­round, we saw two peak times for road­kill sam­ples,” Riggs said. “As fawns be­gin to be fully weaned and the an­nual rut cy­cle be­gin­ning in bucks. Deer ac­tiv­ity in­creases dur­ing these times, which leads to more col­li­sions.”

In ad­di­tion to the in­crease in sam­pling op­por­tu­ni­ties, fall tem­per­a­tures aid in pre­serv­ing vi­able sam­ples un­til staff can col­lect them.

“Dur­ing sum­mer, sam­ples can de­grade in less than a day be­cause of the heat,” Riggs said. “Cooler weather def­i­nitely gives us a bet­ter per­cent­age of vi­able sam­ples from the ef­fort.”

Chronic wast­ing disease is a fatal neu­ro­log­i­cal disease that af­fects mem­bers of the deer and elk fam­ily (cervids). It is sim­i­lar to “mad cow disease” in cat­tle. In­fected an­i­mals will not show signs of disease for a long pe­riod of time; but late in the disease process, they will be thin and may demon­strate weak­ness, ab­nor­mal be­hav­ior, ex­ces­sive thirst or drool­ing. An­i­mals gen­er­ally die soon af­ter the on­set of these signs. To date, 355 white-tailed deer and 14 elk have tested pos­i­tive for CWD in Arkansas.

Re­port any road­kill to the AGFC at 1-800-482-9262 as soon as pos­si­ble. Call this num­ber, as well, if you see any deer ex­hibit­ing signs of CWD. All test­ing op­tions for hun­ters are avail­able at www.agfc.com/cwd.

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