The concern over Chronic Wasting Disease continues in Missouri.
The disease, which is contagious among deer populations and is fatal, once was of only mild interest to Missouri hunters, who watched the disease cause losses in states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota. But it has hit home.
Two new cases of CWD have raised the total to 15 wild deer that have been found with the disease in the last four years. The most recent testing discovered the disease in an adult buck that was shot in Macon County and an adult doe taken by a hunter in Adair County.
The disease was first found in Missouri in 2010 at a private hunting operation in Linn County. Since then, 10 other captive deer have been found with the disease.
All cases of CWD have been limited to Macon, Linn and Adair counties, which are part of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Containment Zone that also includes Chariton, Randolph and Sullivan counties.
The Department of Conservation collected more than 1,800 tissue samples from harvested deer during the recently concluded hunting season. More than 43,000 samples have been tested since 2001.
Some hunters are calling for more and expanded testing so that biologists and hunters can get a more accurate look at how bad the problem has become. Wildlife biologists say most of the testing has taken place in the “hot zone,” northeast Missouri. Testing is conducted in other parts of the state, but not on an every-year basis.
Missouri deer season wrap-up
If the 2014-2015 season is any indication, Missouri deer hunting is on the comeback trail.
Hunters shot 260,552 deer during the season that ended Jan. 15. That was an increase of almost 8,000 deer from the previous season. It was still far short of the 313,254 deer taken in 2012-2013 season.
Wildlife officials credited better hunting weather, particularly during the firearms season, and a slight improvement in deer populations. But deer numbers are still down in areas that were hit hard by hemorrhagic disease in 2012.
Prairie wetland expands
The Marmaton River Bottoms Prairie Wetland, owned by the Nature Conservancy, is getting bigger.
The natural area west of Nevada, Mo., in Vernon County, has grown to 587 acres with the recent purchase of an 80-acre tract. That addition ensures that a vanishing part of Missouri’s natural history will be preserved.
Marmaton, which is open to the public, features the largest tract of unplowed wet prairie remaining in Missouri and offers stunning views, an assortment of wildflowers and diverse wildlife. It is a favorite with bird-watchers because of the 120 species that frequent the area.
The Nature Conservancy protects rare ecosystems across the nation, making sure that they won’t disappear. For more information on the Marmaton River Bottoms Prairie Wetland, go to nature.org/Marmaton.
Former Royals will be featured at show
Former Royals pitcher Tom Bruno will be the featured speaker at the Topeka Boat and Outdoor Show on Feb. 6-8 at the Kansas Expocentre.
Bruno, who operates the Major League Adventures guide service in South Dakota, will give seminars on walleye fishing at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 6 and 11:30 a.m. Feb. 7. Following his talks, Bruno will be joined by former Royals pitcher Dennis Leonard for a short autograph session.
Other featured seminars will be presented by John Jamison on fishing for blue catfish, Tim Martin and Todd Lewis on crappie fishing, and the Deer Whisperer on attracting big bucks to your land.
Admission will be free on Feb. 6 (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Tickets will cost $6.95 for adults on Feb. 7 (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and Feb. 8 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
KAMO Adventures, a nonprofit organization that specializes in taking disabled veterans on hunting and fishing trips, will host a social event from 6 to 10 p.m. Feb. 19 at Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City.
Eric McElvenney, a retired Marine Corps officer who lost his leg in Afghanistan, will be the guest speaker. There will be a barbeque dinner and entertainment from the George Angilan Band.
To purchase tickets, which cost $49, call 913-322-9168 or email info@KAMOadventures.com.