Hunting deer in Custer State Park could soon come with a new requirement.
South Dakota's Game, Fish and Parks Department is requesting that hunters submit deer heads to be tested for chronic wasting disease.
Mike Kintigh, the GF&P's Rapid City regional supervisor, says the procedure would check for the presence of what are called prions in the brain tissue of the deer.
"We already require submission of heads, or a check-in of elk harvested, so we thought this was a logical step to do the same for deer," Kintigh said.
Kintigh emphasizes that this proposal does not represent an increase in the incidence of CWD. But it is an effort to broaden the database.
"Increasing our efforts to determine the prevalence and location of chronic wasting disease in the state," Kintigh said.
Symptoms of CWD are similar to mad cow disease which is also caused by a prion. It doesn't spread to humans, even though hunters who have harvested what appears to be a sick deer are warned not to eat the meat.
The proposed requirement would only apply to deer taken in Custer State Park.
"And it is an area of concern because of the proximity to Wind Cave with known prevalent rates down there from their sampling efforts. So we really want to find out how much this disease has spread into Custer State Park," Kintigh said.
The proposal will be considered at a public hearing in Aberdeen next month. If approved, it would be up to the Game, Fish and Parks Commissioners to decide when the requirement would take effect and for how long.
The Game, Fish and Parks Department says it hopes federal money will become available to pay for the CWD testing program.
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