CWD found in Stone and Taney Counties, MDC plans to cull deer in affected areas

More cases of Chronic Wasting Disease were found in Missouri during the 2018 deer hunting season.

Now, conservation workers plan to cull deer in Stone and Taney Counties to help slow or stop the spread of the disease.

In Taney County, a deer that tested positive for the disease was harvested at the The Drury-Mincy Conservation Area near Kirbyville. In Stone County, a CWD positive deer was shot east of Reeds Spring.

"Surprised and disappointed at the same time," Landowner Larry Curnes said.

That's also how many other people felt when Chronic Wasting Disease was detected in deer near their land.

"[My grandson] had a deer and had it tested and it tested okay," Curnes said.

While only two deer tested in the two counties had the disease, it is the first time CWD has been detected in far southwestern Missouri.

"The disease is here. It's not very wide-spread," MDC Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten said.

During a public meeting in Kirbyville Thursday night, Missouri Department of Conservation staff laid out their plans to kill off deer in areas where infected deer were shot to help control the spread.

"Wherever the positive is, it's just a two mile radius in each direction," MDC Private Land Services Regional Supervisor Dave Darrow said.

Darrow says it's unclear exactly how many deer will be taken in these areas.

"Some [culling areas] have as small as 40 deer harvested. Some have as many as 400. Some of those core areas are twice the size, also," Darrow said.

Some landowners believe this effort is going to ruin the deer population and accomplish nothing, but others agree that it's the only way to control the disease.

"Whatever they have to do to stop this. These people are on top of it and they know what they're doing," Curnes said.

The culling in Taney County will be done on public land by MDC staff. However, in Stone County, MDC is culling on private land. They're asking landowners for permission and even assistance. Participation is voluntary.

"About 40 percent of the landowners are shooting the deer themselves," Curnes said.

"We are definitely not in this alone and it is a collaborative effort," Batten said.

Every deer that is harvested during the culling process will be tested for the disease. Those that do not test positive for CWD will either be given back to the landowner or given to the local Share the Harvest program.