(09/05/2005)
Chronic wasting disease affecting the deer population has found its way to West Virginia.

A road-killed Hampshire County buck, found last October near Slanesville, has tested positive for the "mad deer disease," according to the WVDNR.

Wildlife chief Paul Johansen said the discovery will cause DNR officials to immediately launch the agency's prearranged Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan.

The plan calls for DNR administrators to determine how prevalent and widely distributed the disease is, to communicate to the public steps being taken to respond to the disease, and to begin attempts to eliminate the disease or control its spread.

Johansen said there is a lot of work ahead of us.

First discovered in Colorado in 1967, Chronic Wasting Disease is a degenerative brain disorder that affects elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer.

Infected animals display symptoms similar to those found in mad cow Disease disorientation, loss of motor skills, dementia and death.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no evidence yet exists that chronic wasting disease can be transmitted to humans or domestic animals.

The disease has been found in captive deer and elk in nine states and two Canadian provinces.

Wild populations in nine states and one province have tested positive.

DNR sharpshooters plan to kill 100 to 125 deer within a 5-mile radius of where the infected deer was found.

Tissue samples from each collected animal will be tested for the disease.

Johansen said "When deer numbers are lower, it's harder for the disease to spread."

When CWD was discovered in Wisconsin in 2002, wildlife officials responded by attempting to wipe out all the deer near the outbreak's epicenter.

"We have no plans at all to try to eradicate deer from any part of the state," he said.


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