LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– “Its still got ticks on it, so its very fresh,” Dick Baxter, Assistant Chief of Wildlife Management with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said.
On the back of an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission pickup is a surgery of sorts as the latest Arkansas deer is sampled for Chronic Wasting Disease.
“Those are really good samples to get for whatever reason, the road kills they seem like they’re a step slower,” Baxter said.
Baxter and other biologists with the AGF now taking sick and dead deer samples statewide.
“The earlier that you find it in a particular location, the better odds you have of slowing the spread,” Baxter said.
“It was the little town of Pruitt,” Keith Stephens, with the AGF said.
The first case of the deadly disease to deer and elk was found in Northern Arkansas in February.
“It was a huge surprise, we did not expect it,” Stephens said.
Since then, Stephens says there’s been 56 confirmed cases, a shocking number he says for a state that’s never tested positive for the disease.
“There’s no way to get around this, its awful, we didn’t expect it to be this high, it appears that we’ve had it for a while,” Stephens said.
“Before we’re finished, it will be well over 300,” Stephens said.
About new 50 samples will be tested, as the AGF now hunts to find if the disease has spread to other parts of the state.
“Where the deer came from, the county, the date, what deer zone,” Baxter said.
Baxter says the sampling is a numbers game and one the AGF hopes doesn’t continue to take off.
“By the odds, we should have caught the outbreak sooner but statistically we just got unlucky,” Baxter said.
And one the AGF hopes doesn’t continue to take off.
“Hopefully we won’t find anymore, but at least this way we’ll know,” Stephens said.