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Captive herd of elk in Minnesota. All farmed cervidae producers in Minnesota are required to test their herds for CWD. From each herd, all farmed cervidae 12 months of age and older that die or are slaughtered must be tested for CWD.
Minnesota Board of Animal Health
Captive herd of elk in Minnesota. All farmed cervidae producers in Minnesota are required to test their herds for CWD. From each herd, all farmed cervidae 12 months of age and older that die or are slaughtered must be tested for CWD.

State destroys captive elk herd in Meade County infected with CWD


News Staff - November 12, 2019

STURGIS, SD – The onslaught of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk in South Dakota has taken another herd of captive elk, this one near Sturgis, SD.

Earlier this year in March, CWD was identified in a captive elk in Clark County, South Dakota. Sample testing was done by the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (ADRDL) at South Dakota State University in Brookings. The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, subsequetly confirmed positive test results for the fatal disease.

At that time, the herd was quarantined.

The South Dakota Animal Industry Board permits the possession of captive non-domestic mammals, including cervidae, within the state. The Board required mandatory CWD testing of all permitted cervids mortalities from 1997 until 2012, at which time testing became voluntary under the state’s USDA approved voluntary CWD herd certification program.

Following detection of the disease in Clark County in March, the South Dakota Animal Industry Board began tracing the point-of-origin of the infected animals and discovered a 21-month-old cow elk had come from a captive Meade County elk herd.

In September, elk in the Meade County herd began showing symptoms of chronic wasting disease.  Two animals were euthanized and samples analyzed confirmed positive test results.  The herd was placed under quarantine.

The purchase and euthanizing of the infected herds was contingent on the release of  federal indemnity funds from the United States Department of Agriculture that are approved for the voluntary depopulation of captive cervid herds known to be infected with chronic wasting disease.

According to the South Dakota Animal Industry Board, funds became available October 1.  The seven Meade County captive elk have been purchased and euthanized. The approximate 20 animals in the Clark County herd will be destroyed shortly.

CWD is endemic in free-ranging deer and elk in and around the Black Hills, and was last diagnosed in captive elk in South Dakota in 2001. The fatal disease strikes the nervous system in deer, elk and moose. It is not known if handling or consumption of infected venison affects humans but industry experts say it is not transmissible to other livestock species.



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