CWD Update: Additional positives detected, Louisiana receives DNA results

Published 9:09 am Thursday, October 13, 2022

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NATCHEZ — The first positives of the 2022-2023 deer season have been detected in North Mississippi right in the heart of the CWD hot zone and taken with Deer Management Assistance Program CWD tags. Louisiana received long awaited news with the return of DNA results from their first positive deer. 

Mississippi is two weeks into the archery season and to date 388 deer have been harvested by hunters and reported to Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Game Check. These are not all of the deer who might have been harvested this season as Game Check is not required. 

Game Check is recommended as the data collected through the hunter harvest survey can help the state wildlife agency with management of the deer population. Hunters have submitted 376 Chronic Wasting Disease samples since June 2022. 

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Chronic Wasting Disease is an always fatal, neurological disease caused by an infectious prion, a mis-folded protein. To date, there is no cure for the disease. 

CWD samples are tested at the Mississippi Veterinary Research and Diagnostics lab in Pearl. They detected two CWD suspect positives from a deer harvested in Benton County, which is already in the CWD Management Zone. 

Currently, seven other deer are suspect positives and 127 deer have been confirmed positive by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab since Mississippi’s first detection in 2018. 

Natchez State Park is the closest CWD drop off location in Adams County. Hunters can find a list of Chronic Wasting Disease drop off locations and participating taxidermists by visiting the MDWFP’s Chronic Wasting Disease webpage.


This summer Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Deer Program Director Johnathan Bordelon said they had shipped off the Tensas Parish CWD buck’s DNA sample to Texas A&M for testing. Results finally came in this week as the report stated the ancestry of the deer was consistent with deer sampled in the region. 

Based on this analysis, the deer is closely related to other deer previously sampled in the area, he said. This means that the buck, which was the first confirmed positive of CWD in Louisiana, was not a pen escape but a native deer to the region. A pen escape deer would have likely had northern lineage. At this time, the Tensas Parish buck remains the only positive detected in Louisiana. 

“There have been no more suspect cases since the initial case,” Bordelon said. “However, we are heading into the sampling season. Sample numbers will pick up in the weeks ahead with the kick off of firearm season.” 

While the Mississippi River continues to drop to record low numbers, Bordelon said the state’s deer herd should be fine in lieu of the abnormally dry fall. Water can be over-abundant in Louisiana and August was abnormally wet. 

Remnant water and permanent water still dot the landscape despite the dry spell. He said with winter coming there is not much concern for the deer population’s ability to take in water. 

“Deer also take in water from their diet in the form of browse,” he said. “Well managed habitat that provides a wide array of woody and herbaceous plants meet many dietary requirements for deer. Water is essential but overall it should not be a limiting factor in Louisiana at this time. Yesterday’s rain and forecasted weather should ease the dry conditions.”