Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan
For Free Ranging Deer and Elk in South Dakota
(Revised April 2006)
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease that attacks the brains of cervids (deer and elk and most recently moose) causing the infected animal to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and ultimately die. CWD was first identified in captive wild deer at a Colorado Division of Wildlife research facility in 1967, and was first found in the wild in 1981, also in Colorado. Subsequent findings in free-ranging cervids in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska have led to consideration of this general area as endemic for CWD. In more recent years CWD has been discovered in free-ranging deer and/or elk in Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, West Virginia, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and South Dakota.
CWD was first identified in South Dakota in captive elk in 1997. Eight privately owned elk herds were quarantined as directed by the State Animal Industry Board (AIB) and subsequently depopulated by the owners. CWD has also been found in captive deer and/or elk in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York, Montana, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Testing of free-ranging deer and elk has been conducted by South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks (GFP) since 1997. By the end of April 2006, 12,299 deer and elk (5801 white-tailed deer, 3202 mule deer, and 3296 elk) had been tested, with the first free-ranging cervid testing positive for CWD in the fall of 2001. This was a white-tailed doe taken near Oral, SD, by a hunter, and voluntarily submitted for testing. Since 2001, a total of 46 positive cervids have been found in South Dakota. These include 17 white-tailed deer, 15 mule deer, and 14 elk. All positive cervids have been found in the Southwestern part of South Dakota.
Due to the unknown ramifications that CWD may have in South Dakota relating to economic factors, recreational opportunities, wildlife health and human health, GFP must take proactive steps to monitor and if possible prevent further spread through free-ranging wildlife.
Due to the discovery of CWD in cervids (both captive and free ranging) in South Dakota, it is our goal to:
- Monitor the occurrence and spread of CWD in free-ranging cervids.
- Prevent the further spread of any CWD in free-ranging cervids and eliminate (if possible) the infection where it exists.
- Educate the public.
The following actions will be taken in order to accomplish these goals:
- Annually assess monitoring needs based upon the most current data.
- Continue collection of a representative sample of all cervid species (white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk).
- Collections may be voluntary hunter submissions of cervid heads from any hunting season.
- Collections may include vehicle-killed cervids.
- Collections may include targeted surveillance of "sick" cervids reported by the public.
- Collections may include targeted surveillance by staff of suspect cervids.
- Focus monitoring efforts in geographic areas of concern.
- Areas around captive cervid facilities quarantined in the past or present by AIB for containing, or being exposed to, animals with CWD.
- Areas where free-ranging cervids have been identified as positive for CWD
- Areas where free-ranging cervids with CWD may enter South Dakota from a neighboring state.
- Early detection of infections through monitoring effort.
- Maintain involvement with multi-state meetings on CWD.
- Remain informed on the spread of infection in other states.
- Obtain the most current scientific findings regarding CWD.
- Obtain the results of efforts to control/prevent CWD in other states.
- Establish a response to infection rates based on a prevalence detection of 1 percent or less with a 95 percent or greater confidence level.
- <1% infection rate = monitor through hunter harvest (voluntary submission) with increased tags to reduce herd.
- 1-3% infection rate = (#1 guidelines) plus GFP organized sampling to confirm infection rate and to further reduce herd.
- 3% infection rate and above = mandatory hunter harvested checks, attempt to depopulate designated zone of infection.
- Unlimited, free tags in the zone during season established.
- GFP organized cervid reduction by any necessary means.
- Maintain lines of communication with the office of the AIB/State Veterinarian.
- Request notification as soon as possible regarding any new detection of CWD occurrence in captive cervids.
- Send notification as soon as possible to AIB regarding any new detection of CWD occurrence in wild cervids.
Exchange information with AIB regarding new CWD research findings, surveillance techniques, prevention/control/elimination techniques, etc.
- Provide accurate, timely and regular information to all publics.
- GFP monitoring efforts.
- GFP prevention/elimination efforts.
- Response to health concerns.
- Develop and distribute information through GFP communication outlets.
- GFP web site.
- Pamphlets with general CWD information.
- Pamphlets with technical CWD information.
- News releases through all media outlets.
- Public meetings.
- Increase education and awareness of GFP staff.
- Regional meetings.
- Attendance at CWD conferences.
- Dialog with leading researchers in the field of CWD.
The AIB has the authority and responsibility for managing animal health in South Dakota. The AIB is also charged with regulating animal importation and possession of certain captive non-domestic wildlife (primarily big game) in South Dakota. GFP has worked, and must continue to work, with the AIB to prevent exposure of free-roaming cervids to CWD. Monitoring of both captive and wild cervids for CWD must continue. Results of any monitoring efforts must be freely shared between all involved agencies.