Four new cases of chronic wasting disease have been discovered in the containment zone in Hampshire County.
DNR biologist say the four new deer were killed in the first week of 2008 spring collection period in the Slanesville/Augusta area. Sharp shooters are regularly used to bring down random deer on the property of cooperation private landowners in the area during these collection periods. A second collection point in Yellow Springs has yet to yield any new positive cases.
Officials use the regular collections and testing to define the prevalence of the disease and monitor whether it is spreading to new areas.
Since first being detected in a road killed deer in the area biologists have closely monitored the area north of Route 50 for changes. The biggest change noticed so far is to the age structure of the deer. Increased harvests during the season and the regular collections have dented the adult population of deer there and there are more young deer inside the containment area. The DNR reports the special collections don’t seem to be having an impact on total numbers of deer, but the reproduction and age structure are affected. Biologists say it’s a positive development since younger deer don’t appear to be as capable of transmitting the virus.
The DNR is hoping more landowners within the containment zone will agree to allow deer to be taken from their lands to help prevent pockets of intense CWD prevalence.