The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks announced today that chronic wasting disease has been found south of Long Valley in Jackson County.

“The whitetail buck was approximately 3 ½ years old,” said GFP wildlife program administrator Chad Switzer in a press release. “This deer was found in the very late stages of the disease and reported by a landowner. It’s worthy to note here, however, that not all deer or elk with the disease will look sick or exhibit clinical signs.”

 The chronic wasting disease is found in cervids, like whitetail deer, mule deer, and elk. It is not caused by bacteria or virus, but by an abnormal protein called a prion. The protein collects in the brain and causes brain damage. It is essentially the same disease as Mad Cow disease found in bovine animals and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease found in humans.

“It’s important for landowners and hunters to report deer or elk that appear unhealthy,” said Switzer. “Hunter assistance is crucial in CWD surveillance. By providing samples from animals harvested within high priority surveillance areas, hunters help GFP determine the distribution of CWD.”