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Deer Disease Worries DNR Officials

Last updated on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Wildlife officials are worried a deadly disease that is devastating deer populations across the country could also spread here.

Dustin Grove of WISH TV8 reports, now they're asking for your help to stop it before it gets out of control.

"It's moving from state to state," said Phil Bloom, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

It's called Chronic Wasting Disease - a neurological disease that kills deer, elk, and moose similar to mad cow disease among cattle.

The Indiana Board of Animal Health, with assistance from the DNR, is asking hunters who harvest yellow ear-tagged deer, to call them immediately at (812) 837-9536. They're asking anyone who may strike a deer with their vehicle to do the same.

The DNR says the deer may have been exposed to chronic wasting disease at a captive facility in another state before being transferred to Indiana. Once here, Bloom said some escaped from a facility in Jackson County.

"We need to nail down whether or not those deer actually have it," said Bloom. "It's the genie out of the bottle. There's no way to control it once it's out there. It's always fatal. And we certainly don't want to see that happen here in Indiana."

Of particular interest are any deer with a yellow ear tag bearing the prefix IN 764 followed by another four numbers or any deer with a yellow ear tag and two numbers on it.

Bloom said the carcasses need to be tested for the disease.

DNR will replace the hunter's license at no cost.

In Indiana, hunting isn't just a big sport; it's also big business.

According to the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the Indiana's 237,000 hunters spend $265 million annually, creating some 5,000 jobs.

Most of the deer that escaped have been recaptured and tested negative.

The DNR said there's no evidence people or other livestock can catch it.

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