NEW JERSEY'S DEER HERD TESTS NEGATIVE FOR
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
(04/44) TRENTON- Department
of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M.
Campbell today announced that DEP found no evidence of Chronic
Wasting Disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer tested for CWD
during the 2003 - 2004 hunting season.
In addition, tests conducted on 1,500 deer
between 1998 and 2004 failed to detect the disease.
"Ongoing testing for CWD consistently
shows no evidence of disease in New Jersey's deer,"
said Campbell. "Although it is critical that we continue
to closely monitor the health of the deer population, I
am encouraged that New Jersey's deer herd now appears free
of chronic wasting disease."
In April 2003, a private deer herder with
preserves in South Hardyston and Sparta in Sussex County
illegally imported wild deer from Wisconsin, where CWD had
been diagnosed in captive and free ranging deer. In response,
DEP ordered the quarantine of all deer, elk and sheep on
the two hunting preserves.
DEP coordinated the testing of the imported
deer as well as fifty-one hunter-killed deer in the surrounding
communities of White Township in Warren County and Franklin
and Hardyston townships in Sussex County. DEP also oversaw
the testing of deer from Atlantic, Morris and Ocean Counties
that displayed CWD symptoms as well as three elk from a
captive herd of 130 animals in Kingwood Township, Hunterdon
County that had sustained losses. All of the deer tested
negative for CWD.
Scientists within the DEP Office of Wildlife
Health and Forensics selected the check stations, trained
staff to collect samples, dissected and preserved the samples
and sent them to a laboratory for examination. In addition,
DEP notified hunters who allowed samples to be taken from
their deer and requested notification of the test results.
Scientists believe that CWD is caused by
an abnormally shaped, infectious protein called a prion.
CWD causes fatal damage to the brain and central nervous
system of mule deer, rocky mountain elk and white-tailed
deer. Symptoms include loss of body condition and altered
behavior. However, the disease can only be effectively diagnosed
through examination of a portion of the brain. Extensive
studies demonstrate no association between human neurological
disease and CWD.