Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) said a landowner reported the wild deer behaving abnormally on his property about 15 miles east of Woodward.
The state's first case of CWD in a wild deer was identified in Texas County, in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Woodward County is located east of Texas County, in the northwestern part of the state and just east of the Panhandle. Identification of the first case prompted the ODWC and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to activate the next stage of their CWD response strategy.
We will be ... implementing surveillance efforts and steps to monitor and slow the potential spread of this disease.
"We will be working through our response plan implementing surveillance efforts and steps to monitor and slow the potential spread of this disease," Jerry Shaw, ODWC wildlife programs supervisor, said in a statement. "Our ultimate goal is to ensure healthy and well-managed deer with as little impact to either the resource or our constituents as possible."
State reported CWD in captive elk in 1998
CWD is a fatal neurodegenerative disease caused by infectious prions, or misfolded proteins, that affects cervids such as deer, elk, and moose. The disease creates cavities in the brain that resemble those of sponges. While CWD isn't known to infect humans, some experts fear it could jump species.
The ODWC said it has been monitoring hunter-harvested deer and elk, as well as road-killed deer, for CWD since 1999, processing tissue samples from more than 10,000 wild deer and elk.
The ODWC said it will continue monitoring for CWD and release more information, including how deer and elk hunters can help with detection and mitigation, as hunting seasons approach. It will also distribute more guidelines or management plans, if necessary, to further protect Oklahoma's cervids.
In 1998, the ODWC confirmed CWD in a captive elk herd in Oklahoma County that had been imported from Montana.