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Arkansas Confirms Elk is State’s First Case of CWD

cwd
Travis Smola

This infected elk is the first case of CWD in Arkansas.

Arkansas has confirmed the first case of chronic wasting disease or CWD in a 2 ½ year old elk.

The elk was actually killed in October in the northern part of the state near Pruitt. The deadly neurological disorder doesn’t affect humans, but has been shown to spread easily among deer, elk, and moose. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has tested deer and elk for the disease since the late 1990s, but this is the first case in elk or deer to be confirmed there.

“Although CWD is a serious threat to Arkansas’s elk and white-tailed deer, we are not the first to deal with the disease,” Game and Fish Commission Director Mike Knoedl said. “We have learned from the experience of 23 other states.”

And much like other states that have dealt with CWD outbreaks, Arkansas will establish a CWD management zone in the immediate area where the elk was. The Washington Times reports they will also hold some public meetings to address the concerns of the public.

The mystery now for wildlife officials is exactly how the deadly disease made its way into Arkansas elk. Because the herd started from elk relocated from Nebraska and Colorado in the 1980s, the disease may not originate with those animals.

“(CWD) would have raised its ugly head a lot sooner than now,” wildlife ecologist Don White said. “I think it’s extremely unlikely that it came from those 112 elk.”

For now, in addition to the CWD management zone, officials are also planning to test animals in the immediate area of where the infected elk was found for the disease.

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Arkansas Confirms Elk is State’s First Case of CWD