The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is encouraging deer hunters to have their harvest tested for chronic wasting disease free of charge as LDWF continues its sampling effort to detect the disease, a news release said.

The test will provide reliable assurance to hunters that CWD was not detected in the animals they harvested, the release said. It also will assist LDWF in its statewide effort to monitor for the disease. CWD has not been detected in Louisiana but has been found in deer in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.

A 2.5 year-old female white-tailed deer in Union County, Arkansas, 7.5 miles north of the Louisiana-Arkansas border, was found to have the disease last month. LDWF has implemented its CWD Response Plan and has increased ongoing CWD surveillance in Morehouse and Union parishes due to their proximity to the CWD detection.

Hunters who would like to have their harvested deer tested for CWD are encouraged to visit the CWD testing website and follow the steps outlined on that page so a sample can be submitted to the nearest LDWF Field Office.

“It’s vital to our effort in keeping tabs on CWD to have hunters provide us with samples,’’ said State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour. “There are many ways in which we acquire samples, and participation from hunters is our best avenue as we work to keep CWD from entering our state. The more testing that is done the better. The test also gives hunters peace of mind.’’

LDWF aims for a complete turnaround of two weeks, allowing hunters to quickly get their results in time to enjoy their venison.

To begin the sampling process, hunters can:

  • Record the GPS location of where the deer was harvested.
  • Remove the head about five inches below the ear.
  • Deer heads may be caped with antlers and skull cap removed.
  • Do not freeze. Samples should be refrigerated or saved on ice.
  • Complete the online information gathering form and print the email received after completing that form.
  • Contact the nearest LDWF Field Office to arrange submission of the specimen.

The LDWF Field Offices and contact information is:

Baton Rouge Office: (225) 765-5030, 2000 Quail Drive, Baton Rouge

Hammond Office: (985) 543-4777, 42371 Phyllis Ann Drive, Hammond

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Lafayette Office: (337) 262-2080, 200 Dulles Drive, Lafayette

Lake Charles Office: (337) 491-2575, 1213 North Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles

Minden Office: (318) 371-3050, 9961 U.S. 80, Minden

Monroe Office: (318) 343-4044, 368 Century Link Drive, Monroe

Pineville Office: (318) 487-5885, 1995 Shreveport Highway, Pineville

CWD is a neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including Louisiana’s native white-tailed deer. It is infectious, always fatal and there is no treatment. It’s part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to BSE (mad cow disease) in cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue, which leads to excessive salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation and death of the animal, the release said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that CWD has infected humans. However, the CDC recommends caution in handling venison in infected regions and that deer be tested for CWD before consuming. CWD positive deer should not be consumed by people.

CWD has been documented in 26 states and three Canadian provinces.

LDWF has been sampling for CWD since 2002. To date, over 12,000 samples have been tested and CWD has not been detected in Louisiana.

Detailed instructions and information can be found at www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cwd-testing.

For information on CWD, go to www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cwd.