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Tuesday, August 7 • 9:00am - 9:20am
SYMPOSIA-03: Chronic Wasting Disease Management in Missouri: Successes, Roadblocks, and Lessons Learned

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AUTHORS: Barbara J. Keller, Charles Anderson, and Jasmine Batten – Missouri Department of Conservation

ABSTRACT: Missouri began Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance in 2001 and first detected CWD in its free-ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population in 2012. Since that time, a total of 62 CWD positive deer have been detected, and although known geographic distribution of the disease has increased, disease prevalence in established locations has remained low (< 4%).  Successes of the Missouri Department of Conservation (Department) CWD Management program include 1) a sustained high level of disease surveillance, enabling early detection of the disease; 2) continued intensive culling efforts in localized areas where positive deer have been detected, contributing to low prevalence of the disease. The primary mechanism driving these successes was the high priority placed on CWD management by the Department. The “all hands on deck” approach to CWD management was integral to the success of the 2016 and 2017 Mandatory Sampling efforts during which more than 16,000-19,000 were collected in only 2 days each year. Although the intensive Department-wide approach to management of CWD has been successful, staff fatigue is and will continue to be an issue. Identifying avenues to increase efficiency for all CWD-related operations is paramount to succeeding in this effort. Finding successes in on-the-ground management and highlighting hopeful findings in the scientific literature is important to improve staff and public morale for what can be a very bleak subject. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles and roadblocks to the continued success of CWD management. Principally, public communication, litigation, and the lack of appropriate federal funding stand in the way of Missouri’s success. Effective public communication regarding CWD management remains a struggle, as misinformation and confusion persists about CWD among the public and even some staff. This is not a problem unique to Missouri, but arguably in every state and Canadian province where CWD exists. A collaborative effort across state, federal, and provincial wildlife agencies would help boost public awareness and education. Specifically, it will become important to make this disease relevant not only to the hunting population, but to the general public. Litigation is an unfortunate obstacle that is simply part of the reality of public agencies, and Missouri is no exception. Lengthy lawsuits prevent needed management, erode staff morale, and serves as a detractor for other states considering similar regulations. Wildlife agencies should move forward CWD regulations with the expectation of litigation, and dedicate resources appropriately. Finally, the restoration of federal funding is important to increase surveillance efforts throughout the United States and increase scientific research into CWD management and treatment. Currently few states have resources to conduct surveillance for CWD at levels to detect the disease at low prevalence rates. Given CWD does not respect borders, a unified effort to increase surveillance across North America would benefit all. Despite these challenges, management of CWD remains one of the highest priorities for the agency.

9AM pdf

Tuesday August 7, 2018 9:00am - 9:20am MDT
Assembly Hall C

Attendees (3)