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Free CWD testing available for Arkansas deer hunters

Courtesy of Randy Zellers, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is offering a variety of options to have harvested deer tested for chronic wasting disease for free throughout the 2022-23 deer hunting season.

This year, the AGFC will continue its extensive system of drop-off containers throughout the state, as well as its work with taxidermists and regional offices to pull samples for hunters and have them tested. More than 100 locations around Arkansas are available to get your deer tested for CWD free of charge. A few veterinarians also will provide sampling services for a fee, but hunters should call ahead to ensure availability.

“Last year we took in 8,343 samples from hunter-harvested white-tailed deer,” AJ Riggs, AGFC wildlife health biologist, said. “That’s a new record for sample collection, so we’re really happy with all the hunters who have stepped up to help us monitor CWD in Arkansas by having their deer tested.”

As of the beginning of the 2022-23 hunting season (which began with a few urban bowhunts Sept. 1), the AGFC had collected 42,186 samples for testing since CWD was detected in 2016.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly encourages everyone to have deer from a known CWD-positive area tested before consuming the meat. Testing also assists the AGFC with ongoing disease surveillance in the State’s deer herd. Testing locations are available throughout the state and all hunters are encouraged to make use of the free opportunity.

Thanks to a donation from the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, every Arkansas resident who has their harvested deer tested for CWD this year will be entered to win one of two gift certificates for a free Resident Sportsman’s Lifetime Combination License and Permit. Hunters who submit multiple deer for testing will have increased chances of being selected.

It is easy to get a deer tested through a drop-off location. Simply bring the deer’s head with 4 to 6 inches of the neck attached and any antlers removed to the location and place it in one of the provided plastic bags with your name and contact information on the card provided. The AGFC will collect these, pull the samples and have them analyzed by the Arkansas Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Testing results should be available within two to three weeks.

Test results will be posted through a secure system at www.agfc.com/cwd.

“We also will call the hunter personally for any test that comes back with CWD being detected,” Riggs said. “We can make arrangements to dispose of the meat properly for them.”

Riggs says staff also will notify hunters via phone if their sample is not usable for some reason, so it is important to give complete information with their deer’s head.

Testing locations will remain open until Feb. 28, the last day of the archery deer season.

A list of official testing locations is available at www.agfc.com/cwd as well as the latest regulations and news about the disease in Arkansas.

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