RALEIGH — Today the Virginia Department of Natural Resources announced a positive case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Montgomery County, about 33 miles from Surry and Stokes counties in North Carolina. In response, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have met to discuss next steps in implementing the state’s CWD response plans.
“North Carolina has been fortunate to not have a reported CWD case,” said Jon Shaw, wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Commission. “We have successfully taken preventative measures over the past couple of decades to keep the disease out, but there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of CWD entering our state.”
The confirmed case was identified just outside of the 30-mile range that the two agencies have identified to activate the response plan, but it’s close enough that heightened concerns have triggered a proactive and integrated approach.
The Wildlife Commission and NCDA&CS have authority over free-ranging and farmed cervids respectively and share a mutual need to combat CWD. Together the agencies have taken numerous proactive steps to minimize the risk of CWD entering the state over the last couple of decades, including a prohibition on the importation of live deer species that are susceptible to the disease until a USDA-approved live test is available, and prohibiting the importation of carcasses and high-risk carcass parts from residents who travel out of state to hunt any members of the deer family.
Surveillance for CWD in North Carolina began in 1999. Over 16,000 samples have been collected and tested across the state, including submissions from deer and elk farmers at 27 farmed cervid facilities overseen by the NCDA&CS. The majority of that testing ramped up after 2018 when the state adopted a robust annual statewide surveillance strategy.
Officials from both agencies will continue to monitor the situation and are asking North Carolina residents for help.
“The NCDA&CS Veterinary Division has been in contact with our North Carolina cervid farms,” said State Veterinarian Doug Meckes. “We have encouraged increased surveillance at these facilities, which includes testing for CWD in all animals that die for any reason and to monitor all cervids for any illness and abnormal behavior. Farmers can report concerns to the Veterinary Division by calling 919-707-3250.”
The public is encouraged to contact the NC Wildlife Helpline, 866-318-2401, if they see a deer that appears to be sick or acting abnormal. The Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. or folks can send an email anytime to HWI@ncwildlife.org.
Shaw stated that deer hunters may be asked to submit additional samples of their harvest this coming deer season, especially in Surry, Stokes, Alleghany and Rockingham counties.
“It’s imperative that we continue to closely monitor the situation in North Carolina and our border states,” Shaw said. “The Virginia case occurred 120 miles from their last confirmed case of CWD. That amount of distance is cause for concern in North Carolina. We feel confident we are ready to respond but would rather not have to pull out that playbook.”