ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported today that 38 white-tailed deer sampled within Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties in 2022 tested positive for chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease found in deer and elk.
The Department of Natural Resources works with neighboring states to monitor chronic wasting disease in the deer population, and establishes management areas to help study the disease and hopefully curb its spread.
Of the positive samples, 34 came from within the existing Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area (Allegany and Washington counties), while three positive samples came from Frederick County and one positive sample came from Carroll County.
“Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, this disease continues to spread both regionally and nationally,” Wildlife and Heritage Service Acting Director Karina Stonesifer said. “The department will continue to monitor this disease using the best science available to minimize the impact on our deer population and to keep hunters informed.”
In response to finding positive samples in Carroll and Frederick counties, the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area has been expanded to include all of Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington counties.
Hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts help by reporting any deer that are emaciated, unhealthy, or acting abnormally. Hunters also help by granting permission to the department to collect brain tissue samples from harvested deer. Anyone with information may contact the department at 410-260-8540.
Maryland’s chronic wasting disease surveillance program began in 1999 and, to date, more than 13,300 deer have been tested. Additional funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture facilitated expanding chronic wasting disease surveillance to the entire state for the first time since 2009. A total of 1,722 samples were submitted for laboratory testing under the new surveillance program.
Chronic wasting disease was first confirmed in Maryland in February 2011, apparently related to a 2005 outbreak in West Virginia. Since then, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia have all documented chronic wasting disease in the region. The latest findings bring the number of positive cases in Maryland to 171.
Concerns about chronic wasting disease should not stop anyone from hunting deer or enjoying venison. Research suggests the disease cannot be naturally transmitted to humans. However, as a general safety precaution it is recommended that hunters avoid consuming the meat of sick animals as well as the brain, lymph nodes or spinal column of any deer — all of which are normally removed during the butchering process.
To find more information on chronic wasting disease in Maryland, citizens should visit the Maryland Department of Natural Resources website.