Moniteau County and six other Mid-Missouri counties have been removed from the Missouri Department of Conservation's management zone for chronic wasting disease among white-tailed deer, the department announced Monday.
Starting in July, the number of counties in the zone will be 29 instead of 48, according to an MDC news release.
This will impact restrictions on feeding deer, antler-point restrictions, antlerless permits for some counties and mandatory CWD sampling.
CWD is a deadly, infectious disease in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. The disease has no vaccine or cure and eventually kills all deer it infects. CWD is spread from deer to deer and through the environment. MDC has found 116 cases of CWD in Missouri since 2012.
In response to finding CWD in Missouri, MDC created a CWD Management Zone around where confirmed cases of the disease have been found to help track and limit its spread.
MDC designed the zone in 2012 to include counties within 25 miles of where cases of CWD have been found. The 25-mile radius was based on existing research from other states that shows deer may disperse up to 25 miles from the area where they were born, especially young bucks in search of territory or mates.
Recent MDC research shows more than 90 percent of bucks in Missouri disperse less than 10 miles. Based on this recent research, MDC reduced the number of counties in the zone.
Cole, Boone, Callaway, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan and Osage counties were removed from the CWD management zone.
The 29 counties now included in MDC's CWD Management Zone are Adair, Barry, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren and Washington.
Cole and Moniteau counties were removed because no cases of CWD have been found in the area after extensive follow-up CWD testing after a single case was confirmed in Cole County in 2015, MDC officials noted.
MDC will require hunters who kill a deer in any of the 29 counties of the management zone during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season (Nov. 16-17) to take their harvested deer (or the head with at least 6 inches of neck attached) on the day of harvest to one of MDC's CWD sampling stations throughout the zone. Hunters who harvest deer in counties no longer part of the zone are not required to participate in mandatory sampling.
The change in the management zone will also impact restrictions on feeding deer, antler-point restrictions and antlerless permits for some counties.
Feeding deer or placing minerals for deer unnaturally concentrates the animals and can help spread CWD, MDC officials said. The Wildlife Code of Missouri prohibits the placement of grain, salt products, minerals, and other consumable natural and manufactured products used to attract deer year-round within counties of the CWD Management Zone. The feeding ban no longer applies to counties removed from the zone.
The antler-point restriction for deer hunting does not apply to counties in the zone. Protecting young bucks from being harvested in areas where CWD has been found can increase the spread of the disease, according to MDC. The antler-point restriction has been reinstated for some counties removed from the zone.
MDC officials said the increased availability of firearms antlerless permits for some counties in the zone can help prevent undesired population increases in local deer numbers around where CWD has been found.