The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has revealed that 38 white-tailed deer sampled in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties in 2022 have tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). This neurological disease, affecting deer and elk, continues to pose a significant threat to the region’s wildlife.

In an effort to study and combat the spread of CWD, the Department of Natural Resources collaborates with neighboring states while monitoring the deer population. Management areas are established to aid in the research of the disease. Unfortunately, the latest findings indicate that the disease is spreading both regionally and nationally.

Of the 38 positive samples, the majority, 34 samples, were collected from the existing Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area in Allegany and Washington counties. Additionally, three positive samples originated from Frederick County, and one from Carroll County.

Karina Stonesifer, the Acting Director of the Wildlife and Heritage Service, expressed her disappointment at the continued spread of the disease: “Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, this disease continues to spread both regionally and nationally. The department will continue to monitor this disease using the best science available to minimize the impact on our deer population and to keep hunters informed.”

In response to the positive samples found in Carroll and Frederick counties, the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area has been expanded to encompass all of Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties. This expansion aims to better manage the disease’s spread and protect the deer population.

Hunters and wildlife enthusiasts play a crucial role in combating the disease by reporting any emaciated, unhealthy, or abnormally behaving deer. Hunters are also requested to allow the department to collect brain tissue samples from harvested deer. Those with relevant information can contact the department at 410-260-8540.

Maryland’s chronic wasting disease surveillance program was initiated in 1999, with over 13,300 deer tested thus far. Additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture has enabled the expansion of chronic wasting disease surveillance to cover the entire state for the first time since 2009. Under the new program, a total of 1,722 samples were submitted for laboratory testing.

Maryland first confirmed chronic wasting disease in February 2011, with the outbreak seemingly linked to a 2005 occurrence in West Virginia. Since then, neighboring states such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia have also documented cases of the disease. With the latest positive samples, the number of cases in Maryland has now reached 171.

While concerns about chronic wasting disease exist, they should not deter individuals from hunting deer or enjoying venison. Research suggests that the disease cannot be naturally transmitted to humans. Nevertheless, it is recommended as a general safety precaution to avoid consuming meat from sick animals or consuming the brain, lymph nodes, or spinal column of any deer, as these are typically removed during the butchering process.

For further information on chronic wasting disease in Maryland, citizens are encouraged to visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website. Stay informed and play a role in preserving Maryland’s wildlife.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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