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PUBLIC MEETING ON CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE SET FOR OBERLIN

Feb. 6 meeting to provide information, answer questions

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks officials will conduct a public meeting in Oberlin Feb. 6 to provide information and answer questions regarding the recent occurrence of chronic wasting disease in Decatur County. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the Gateway Center, located at the intersection of U.S. highways 36 and 83.

Three white-tailed deer taken by hunters in Decatur County tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). All three deer were taken by hunters along Sappa Creek in central Decatur County, north of Oberlin, which is in the northwest corner of the state.

Testing is yet to be completed on about half of the 2,200 deer tissue samples collected from hunters during the 2007-2008 Kansas deer seasons. About 600 of those samples are from northwest Kansas, and those are given priority since they are from deer that have a higher risk of being exposed to CWD than those in the rest of the state. As results are returned in the weeks ahead, updates will be posted on the KDWP website.

CWD has been detected twice previously in Kansas. The first case was in 2001 in a captive elk herd in Harper County. The other occurred during the 2005 hunting season in a wild whitetail doe harvested in Cheyenne County.

Last month, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reported a CWD-positive deer from an area just a few miles north of Decatur County, in Red Willow County, Nebraska.

Wildlife biologists plan to sample more deer in the vicinity in February to help determine the distribution and prevalence of the disease in the area.

KDWP biologists have conducted annual sampling of hunter-harvested and road-killed deer since 1996.

While CWD is fatal to infected deer and elk, and moose,the disease has never been known to transfer to humans or non-cervid domestic livestock. CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease in people.

The symptoms of CWD include loss of body weight, depression, stumbling, drooping head, excessive thirst, drooling, circling, and loss of fear of humans. Any sick deer or elk should be reported to the nearest KDWP office or the Emporia Research Office, 620-342-0658.

The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance maintains an online clearinghouse of information about the disease. More information is also available on the KDWP website here. Contact Bob Mathews at KDWP’s Pratt office (620/672-5911) for more information.

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