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26 new CWD cases found in North Dakota deer

State officials have now discovered 70 positive cases since 2009, the year the disease was first detected in North Dakota.

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The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has implemented restrictions in an attempt to curb chronic wasting disease in the state.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department
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BISMARCK — The North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported on Wednesday, Feb. 23, that 26 deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease during the 2021 hunting season, an increase of eight cases from 2020.

State officials have now discovered 70 positive cases since 2009, the year the disease was first detected in North Dakota.

Fourteen of the 26 deer were from hunting unit 3F2 in the southwest part of the state, the Game and Fish Department said. That zone is roughly bordered by the towns of Mott to the northwest and Fort Yates to the southeast. Eight positives derived from unit 3A1 in the northwest corner of the state and one in unit 3B1, just south of that zone in the Williston area.

Three units, 3C (south of Bismarck), 3D1 (near Manning) and 3E2 (southwest of Mandan) had first-time single cases of CWD.

CWD is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines as infection rates climb.

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Game and Fish Department officials estimated the infection rates in unit 3F2 were 4.9% in mule deer and 3% in whitetails. The infection rate was higher at 6.9% for mule deer in 3A1.

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North Dakota deer gun hunting units.
North Dakota Game and Fish Department

Some areas of the U.S. and Canada have had infection rates of 30% or higher. North Dakota has implemented carcass transportation and baiting restrictions to help curb the spread of CWD in recent years.

In 2020, the department tested about 2,700 animals, which included mule deer, whitetails, moose and elk. In 2019, that number was around 3,500 when eight antlered deer from two previously known areas with CWD tested positive.

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This past hunting season, state game officials made 114 CWD surveillance collection sites available to hunters. Approximately 4.9% of hunters turned in heads for testing where department officials were focusing their efforts, the Game and Fish Department said. Last year, the participation rate was about 7%.

Dr. Charlie Bahnson, wildlife veterinarian for Game and Fish in Bismarck, said last year that the department would like to see at least 13% of hunters, at the minimum, participate in the CWD testing program.

Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he assists with Northland Outdoors, The Rink Live and other content produced by the company.
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