By Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is offering a variety of options to have harvested deer tested for chronic wasting disease for free throughout the 2020-21 deer hunting season.
This year, the AGFC will continue its extensive system of drop-off containers throughout the state, as well as its work with taxidermists and regional offices to pull samples for hunters and have them tested. With regional offices and drop-off sites, hunters will have 100 locations around Arkansas to drop off their deer’s head for testing. An additional 52 taxidermists also will be able to pull samples for hunters free of charge.
“Last year we took in 6,622 CWD samples from hunters,” AJ Riggs, AGFC wildlife health biologist, said. “All testing on deer is completely voluntary, so we are very happy with the number of people taking advantage of the opportunity to have their deer tested.”
Although no verified cases of CWD being transmitted to humans currently exist, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly encourage everyone to have deer from a known CWD-positive area tested before consuming the meat. Testing also assists the AGFC with ongoing disease surveillance in the State’s deer herd.
It is easy to get a deer tested through a drop-off location. Simply bring the deer’s head with 4 to 6 inches of the neck attached and any antlers removed to the location and place it in one of the provided plastic bags with your name and contact information on the card provided. The AGFC will collect these samples and have them analyzed by the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission laboratory. Testing results should be available within two to three weeks.
Test results will be posted through a secure system at www.agfc.com/cwd.
“We also will call the hunter personally for any test that comes back with CWD being detected,” Riggs said. “We can make arrangements to dispose of the meat properly for them.”
Riggs says staff also will notify hunters via phone if their sample is not usable for some reason, so it is important to give complete information with their deer’s head.
Testing locations will remain open until Feb. 28, the last day of the archery deer season.
A list of official testing locations is available at www.agfc.com/cwd as well as the latest regulations and news about the disease in Arkansas.
Arkansas modern gun deer season opens Nov. 14.