ODNR roundup: Three cases of Chronic Wasting Disease found in Ohio deer

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife has confirmed that three white-tailed deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease following the collection of 637 samples in the fall of 2022. During the 2022 deer hunting season, testing has been performed in the disease surveillance area of Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties on hunter-harvested and road-killed deer, as well as through targeted sampling.

Three white-tailed deer in Hardin, Marion and Wyandot counties have tested for Chronic Wasting Disease.
Three white-tailed deer in Hardin, Marion and Wyandot counties have tested for Chronic Wasting Disease.

The three positive CWD cases confirmed this fall were all deer harvested by hunters. Two of the deer were confirmed in Wyandot County and one in Marion County. Two were harvested Oct. 8, and the third on Oct. 9. An early deer gun hunting season was held Oct. 8-10 in the disease surveillance area to limit the spread of CWD and monitor its prevalence. The Division of Wildlife is grateful to all hunters who have complied with testing requirements and submitted deer for sampling to help keep Ohio’s deer herd healthy.

Since the fall of 2020, 14 wild deer have tested positive for CWD, all in Marion and Wyandot counties. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other similar species, including mule deer, elk, and moose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no strong evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans.

Within Hardin, Marion, and Wyandot counties, hunters are required to submit deer harvested during the seven-day gun season, Nov. 28-Dec. 4, for testing, and hunters can voluntarily submit deer for testing until the close of the deer archery season on Feb. 5, 2023. Sampling locations can be found at ohiodnr.gov/cwd. Outside of the disease surveillance area, hunters can have harvested deer tested by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (614-728-6220).

The Division of Wildlife has extensively monitored and tested deer in the disease surveillance area since CWD was discovered in the wild in 2020. The Division of Wildlife has conducted routine surveillance for CWD since 2002. CWD has been detected in 30 states and four Canadian provinces. The disease was first discovered in the 1960s in the western U.S. More information about this disease is available at cwd-info.org.

Mussel survey reveals two federally endangered species

In the first survey of its kind in more than three decades, the ODNR, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves Scenic Rivers Program has discovered two federally endangered mussel species in the Olentangy State Scenic River. The survey, funded by the Scenic Rivers Program, was conducted this summer.

“It’s exciting when we find wildlife in our Ohio waterways that we thought were gone, especially considering the decline of the freshwater mussels,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said.  “These surveys and discoveries like this, help us take the necessary steps to protect these species and their habitats.”

The last survey was done in 1990.  Dr. Michael Hoggarth of Otterbein University conducted that survey and the most recent one.  He and his team focused on the Olentangy River from the headwaters to the confluence with the Scioto River. In July, they found two shells of recently deceased freshwater mussels at a location on the Olentangy River in Marion County above Delaware Reservoir.  The shells indicated there may be living specimens of the federally endangered snuffbox Epioblasma triquetra.  When the group returned in September, they found a living specimen of the snuffbox and a freshly dead specimen of the federally endangered rayed bean Villosa fabalis. The last time either was found in this section of the river was at least 60 years ago.

This find will extend the protection of the snuffbox in the Olentangy River north of Franklin County where a freshly dead shell was found some distance below the Delaware Lake Dam into Marion County.

“While we were surprised to find these specimens in the Olentangy, the water quality in this section of the river has been maintained beautifully making this a great habitat for mussels and other creatures,” Dr. Hoggarth said.  “The streamside forest buffer has been well-maintained and that is an essential piece of keeping the water clean and allowing aquatic species to thrive.”

This portion of the river has maintained exceptional water quality and mussels, like other animals, are habitat specialists and their habitat remains intact in this section of the river.

New pump track opened in Athens County

Mountain bikers can now hone their skills on a new pump track in Athens County, thanks to a partnership between the ODNR and the village of Chauncey. The track is a part of a larger trailhead development project known as the Baileys Trail System funded through the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization Program.

“We love being able to create recreation spaces for Ohioans that also contribute to the safety and economic vitality of this community,” ODNR's Mertz said. “The dollars we are investing in these spaces benefit Ohioans by restoring the health of the former mine lands and providing economic growth opportunities across Appalachian Ohio.”

A pump track is ridden without pedaling, and speed is generated by “pumping” over smooth rollers and through steep berms. Pumping is the rhythm of pulling and pushing with a user’s arms and legs while riding over the berms and rollers to gain momentum and speed.

“We are so thrilled with this new recreational asset we have in Chauncey that has people being active, learning new skills, and getting outdoors which really embodies what we hoped to achieve at our park,” Chauncey Mayor Amy Renner said. “The outpouring of appreciation for the addition of the pump track has been nothing short of incredible and we are thankful to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for this opportunity.”

This new community asset was developed to enhance the 88-mile Baileys Trail System user experience. While using the pump track, users must wear a helmet, ride within their ability, and use this resource responsibly.

“The pump track is already and quickly becoming a community favorite and drawing more people to the park,” The Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia Sustainable Recreation Director Elle Dickerman said. “It’s great to see people of all ages enjoying themselves at the trailhead, especially since the skills for riding the pump track can directly be transferred to riding the trails.”

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Ohio Department of Natural Resources finds three cases of CWD