Ohio taking steps to prevent CWD

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources confirmed the state's first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a three-year old white-tailed deer from a privately owned cervid facility in Kent County, Mich.

Chronic wasting disease has not been detected in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife will continue to be vigilant in chronic wasting disease surveillance of wild free-ranging white-tailed deer.

The Division, in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will collect samples from hunter harvested deer, road-killed deer, and suspect deer again this year.

The Division is proposing an administrative rule to require an eight-foot minimum fence height for white-tailed deer held in captivity, and the participation of captive white-tailed deer propagators in ODA's Chronic Wasting Disease Monitoring Program or CWD testing of deer that die at their facility.

This proposed rule change is intended to develop reasonable measures that minimize the risk of the spread of infectious diseases, specifically CWD, among the state's healthy wild white-tailed deer herd.

Public can provide input on this proposal in three ways; attending an open house, writing a letter or sending an email. Open houses will be held on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008, from noon until 3 p.m. in Akron, Athens, Columbus, Findlay, and Xenia.

Letters can be sent to ODNR Division of Wildlife, 2045 Morse Road, Columbus, Ohio 43229 or e-mail comments to wildinfo@dnr.state.oh.us, please type wildlife proposed rule change in the subject line.

Information recorded at these open houses and collected from letters and e-mails is compiled at the Division's central office in Columbus, where proposed rule changes to the Ohio Administrative Code are considered.

For more information or directions to the open house, please call 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543). Directions can also be accessed via the Internet at www.wildohio.com.

A statewide hearing on all the proposed rules will be held at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25 at the wildlife division's District One Office, located at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus. After considering public input, the Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on the proposed rules during its October 15 meeting.

Ohioans are urged to contact their district wildlife office or the wildlife officer in their county if they encounter deer that appear to be sick or are displaying abnormal behavior.

Since 2002, the Division of Wildlife has been conducting surveillance throughout the state for CWD, as well as epizootic hemorrhagic disease and bovine tuberculosis.

While CWD has never been found in Ohio's deer herd, it had been diagnosed in both wild and/or captive deer or elk in 15 states and two Canadian provinces. Since CWD was discovered in the western United States in the late 1960s, there has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans.