December 30, 2011

Depopulation Plan Being Developed for Captive Deer Facility in Macon County

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is finalizing a depopulation and management plan for an approximately 3,000 acre captive wildlife hunting facility in northern Missouri following two positive tests for Chronic Wasting Disease. The facility, operated by Heartland Wildlife Ranches, LLC, is home to white-tail deer, elk and red deer.

The plan includes a requirement to depopulate and test all remaining animals for CWD, as well as restrictions on the future movement of animals into the facility. The plan follows multiple positive CWD tests indentified through random surveillance and extends the facility's current quarantine until all animals have been depopulated and tested for the disease.

In October, MDA received results from the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa indicating that a captive white-tail deer harvested in the Macon County facility tested positive for CWD. The animal that tested positive was inspected as part of the State's CWD surveillance and testing program. A second positive test result on a captive white-tail deer within the same facility was verified late this week.

"This plan is an important step forward as we continue working to ensure that this situation is addressed quickly and effectively and that the health of Missouri's cervids is protected from this disease," said State Veterinarian Dr. Linda Hickam.

The State's CWD Contingency Plan was developed in 2002 and revised in 2003 by the Cervid Health Committee, a task force comprised of industry representatives, veterinarians and staff from the departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Health and Senior Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In February 2010 a case of CWD was confirmed in Linn County on a captive hunting preserve operated by the same entity, Heartland Wildlife Ranches, LLC. The Linn County facility was depopulated and no further infection was identified at that facility.

CWD is transmitted by live animal to animal contact or soil to animal contact. The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in the Colorado Division of Wildlife captive wildlife research facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. CWD has been documented in deer and/or elk in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Canadian Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. There has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.

CWD is a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose; it has not been reported in humans or non-cervid animals.

For more information on CWD, visit the Department online at