The Missouri Department of Conservation has reported numerous new cases of a deadly disease in deer just as its attempted regulations are being litigated.
The state agency says 15 free-ranging Missouri deer have tested positive for chronic wasting disease out of nearly 18,400 tests of the animals so far in the current hunting season.
Chronic wasting disease is a deadly illness in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, such as elk. It kills all deer it infects and has no vaccination, treatment or cure. The state’s Conservation Commission first detected chronic wasting disease at a private hunting preserve in 2010. After finding many more infected deer, it enacted regulations for importing and handling of the animals. But it’s rules were successfully challenged by six members of the deer hunting and breeding industry.
A circuit court in mid-Missouri’s Gasconade County determined in 2016 that the commission lacked the authority to enforce the regulations. The Missouri Supreme Court will hear arguments in an appeal by the Conservation Commission Wednesday in Jefferson City.