AUSTIN / LIMESTONE COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) have discovered Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a deer breeding facility in Limestone County.

TPWD said in a press release Friday afternoon that this marks the first positive detection of the disease in the county. As part of a required CWD surveillance program, samples from four deer were detected with CWD prions by the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station on September 5. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa confirmed CWD in two of these samples on September 13, and should complete testing of the other two samples soon.

Animal health and wildlife officials have taken action to secure the facility and to identify and notify other breeding facilities which received deer or shipped deer to this facility in the last five years.

TPWD officials are developing surveillance zone boundaries which might include portions of Limestone, Hill, Freestone and Navarro counties. CWD zones are an effective strategy for managing and containing the disease. Hunters in surveillance and containment zones must take harvested CWD susceptible species to a check station or otherwise meet submission requirements.

TPWD says it will provide additional information to landowners and hunters within the surveillance zone regarding CWD sampling locations and options to have their deer or other CWD susceptible species tested (there is no cost to the hunter for this testing). A public meeting will be held in Limestone County prior to implementation to provide the details of the zones and CWD management.

Testing for CWD allows wildlife biologists and animal health officials to get a clearer picture of the prevalence and distribution of the disease across Texas. Proactive monitoring improves the state’s response time to a CWD detection and can greatly reduce the risk of the disease spreading further to neighboring captive and free-ranging populations.

TPWD and TAHC encourage hunters outside of established surveillance and containment zones to voluntarily submit their harvest for testing at a check station, for free, before heading home from the field. A map of TPWD check stations can be found on the TPWD website.

For more information about CWD, visit the TPWD web site or the TAHC web site.