Hunters can learn the age of their harvested deer and help the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources monitor the health of the state’s deer and elk herds through a new voluntary program available this fall.
The department is establishing Deer Sample Collection Stations at several locations across the state, where hunters may submit the heads of their legally harvested and telechecked deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing and aging.
Chronic Wasting Disease has not been detected in Kentucky but is found in six of seven bordering states. Samples collected in this effort will enhance Kentucky Fish and Wildlife’s monitoring for the always-fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk, moose and caribou.
Since 2002, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has CWD-tested more than 32,000 deer and elk from every county in the state. Hunters harvested most of those animals. Each county has been represented by multiple deer samples being tested.
“Hunters play a vital role in the management of Kentucky’s deer herd,” said Chris Garland, Wildlife Division director with Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “By contributing a sample through a Deer Sample Collection Station, it is one more way to demonstrate your personal commitment to the conservation and protection of this resource.”
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife coordinated with local, state and federal agency partners to establish the first 12 collection stations in Fulton, Marshall, Trigg, Monroe, Franklin, Woodford, Grant, Knox, Wolfe, Leslie and Magoffin counties. Location details are available online at fw.ky.gov/cwd.
The stations are strategically located to enhance sample collection in areas receiving fewer samples previously, or areas identified as high-risk because of their proximity to confirmed CWD cases in neighboring states.
There is no cost to hunters for submitting the head of a legally harvested and telechecked deer at a Deer Sample Collection Station.
“Collecting an adequate number of samples is critical to maintaining an effective herd health monitoring program and protecting our native wildlife from potential disease threats,” said Dr. Christine Casey, state wildlife veterinarian for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. “Protecting our deer and elk herds from the threat of CWD is imperative, and hunters can help even more through this new opportunity. Enhanced surveillance efforts are crucial for early detection, and a rapid response will be key to minimize the impact this always-fatal disease could have on Kentucky’s deer and elk populations.”
Lab testing and age determination may take up to 10 weeks. Results will be available to hunters at fw.ky.gov/cwd. If a hunter-submitted sample tests positive for CWD, the department will notify the hunter.
Hunters who intend to submit a deer head for testing and age determination should:
• Remove any antlers, if present, and preserve the head with at least 4 inches of the neck attached.
• Place the head in a garbage bag and seal the open end with a knot. Garbage bags will be available at each location.
• Fill out a biological sample tag. Hunters must provide their name, phone number, email address, telecheck confirmation number, county of harvest, indicate if the deer was male or female and if the deer was harvested on public land.
• The top portion of the tag should be attached to the garbage bag. Zip ties will be provided at each location. Hunters should keep the bottom portion of the completed tag for their records.
• Place the bag containing the sample into the freezer.
Step-by-step instructions will be posted at each location.