State Issues

Avian cholera detected at Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira


Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) staff at Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area in Barton County, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) staff at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge just 30 miles to the south are closely monitoring waterfowl populations at the wetlands after dead geese were observed. Staff at both areas picked up dead birds last week and sent samples for testing.


Lab results confirmed that avian cholera, a contagious disease resulting from infection by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, was the cause of death. This strain of bacteria commonly affects geese, coots, gulls and crows. Most of the dead birds found have been snow geese. 


“We picked up about 30 dead geese on Monday, December 14,” said Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area manager Karl Grover. “Those birds had died between last Friday and Monday, so we’re seeing about 10 dead birds a day. We estimate that the Bottoms is holding between 75,000 and 150,000 geese, half of which are snows, and about 10,000 ducks.”


USFWS staff at Quivira NWR gave similar estimates. Refuge manager Mike Oldham said some geese moved off of the refuge after the weekend. 


“We probably have about 80,000 geese and about half of them are snow geese,” Oldham said. “We’re picking up about 4-5 dead birds per day.”


While it’s not uncommon for a contagious disease to affect waterfowl when large numbers are concentrated, avian cholera deaths are not common in Kansas. According to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, humans are not at high risk for infection with the bacteria strain causing avian cholera. However, it’s recommended that hunters and their dogs avoid contact with any sick or dead birds.


Avian cholera quickly overcomes infected birds, resulting in death in as little as 6-12 hours, although 24-48 hours is more common. Infected birds may exhibit signs such as convulsions, throwing head back between wings, swimming in circles, erratic flight and miscalculated landing attempts.


Avian cholera should not be confused with avian influenza, which is a highly pathogenic virus that infected millions of poultry flocks in the upper Midwest last summer. 


Landowners earn income for allowing fishing access

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats Program (F.I.S.H.) pays landowners to allow fishing access to their private ponds and streams. F.I.S.H. is patterned after the hugely popular Walk-In Hunting Access program (WIHA), and both programs were designed to increase access to quality hunting and fishing opportunities across Kansas. Because more than 97 percent of Kansas land is privately owned, providing hunting and fishing access to private land is a KDWPT priority.

The F.I.S.H program leases private waters from landowners and opens them to public fishing. Landowners participating in F.I.S.H. receive payments for the use of their land, and anglers are in turn provided with a place to fish that might not have been available otherwise. The enrollment deadline for 2016 is December 15, 2015.

Special regulations are in place for F.I.S.H. properties, and KDWPT officials periodically patrol the areas. Violators will be ticketed or arrested for vandalism, littering or failing to comply with fishing regulations. Access is limited to foot traffic, except on roads designated by the landowner in the case of very large tracts of land. Additionally, under this program some landowners are eligible for fish stocking, habitat management, fence crossers, cattle guards, rock boat ramps, or rocked parking areas.

Each year, KDWPT publishes a fishing atlas, featuring maps that show each body of water enrolled in the program, boating allowance, and fish species available. Most F.I.S.H. sites are open for public access from March 1 to October 31, but some contracts pay landowners more to allow year-round access.


Pond Leasing

Privately-owned ponds are leased by the acre with base lease rates ranging from $75 to $125 /acre/year, depending on where the pond is located. Boating allowance bonuses are available, as well. Ponds allowing carry-in boats are eligible for an additional $10/acre/year, and properties allowing all boats access (adequate launching site must be present) are eligible for an additional $25/acre/year.


Stream Leasing

Annual lease rates for stream fishing access range from $500 to $1,500/mile/year, depending on the quality of the fisheries.


River Access Leasing

The Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri rivers are considered navigable waters and are open to public use between the ordinary high-water marks. However, adjacent land is often privately owned, and public access points are limited. To increase public access to these rivers, the F.I.S.H. program leases access sites from willing landowners. Landowners with adequate launch facilities receive $1,500/site/year. If the site is within 10 river miles of any other public access site, a landowner can receive $2,000/site/year.

For more information on enrolling your water in the F.I.S.H. program, contact your nearest KDWPT office, or the Pratt Operations office at (620) 672-5911. You can also learn more about F.I.S.H. at

Game Wardens, Sheriff’s Deputies to conduct checkpoints

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) game wardens and Kiowa County sheriff’s officers will conduct one or more joint checkpoints on Sunday, December 6, 2015. Deer, upland bird, and migratory game bird seasons will be underway. Checkpoints are intended to help enforce state and federal wildlife laws, as well as the state’s driver’s licensing laws.

Kiowa County deputies will operate the first stage of the checkpoints to be sure drivers are properly licensed to be driving. If a driver does not have a valid license, appropriate enforcement actions will be taken. Travelers should not expect major delays from this portion of the checkpoints.

Occupants of vehicles in the first check lane will be asked if they are hunters or are transporting wildlife. If yes in either case, drivers will be directed to a nearby KDWPT check lane where Kansas game wardens will check for required licenses and permits, count the game and gather biological, harvest, and hunter success information. This portion of the checkpoints should also cause minimal delay.

The following locations may be used if weather conditions and manpower allow:


Additional wildlife checkpoints will occur around the state during the fall and winter hunting seasons.

KDWPT’s Dan Hesket recognized for boating safety work

Major Dan Hesket, Law Enforcement Division assistant director for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT), was awarded the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ (NASBLA) Bonner Award on September 15. The prestigious award was presented to Hesket during the 56th Annual NASBLA Conference, held in Wichita, Sept. 13-16.

Hesket has worked in the KDWPT’s Law Enforcement Division for 26 years and became a leader in the boating safety field while working at Wilson Reservoir early in his career. There, he worked with the local marina and boat businesses to promote safe boating and compliance of boating laws. Hesket produced several boating safety programs and created the first public hands-on personal watercraft course, which is still in use today. Hesket also developed an officer training course, laying the groundwork for the use of the personal watercraft in boating law enforcement.

In 1992, Hesket was promoted to a boating enforcement specialist position stationed near Wichita. In that capacity, he worked closely with KDWPT’s then boating law administrator, Jeff Gayer, to strengthen the boating under the influence (BUI) laws and get department personnel trained in Standard Field Sobriety Testing procedures. He wrote the BUI check-lane procedure manual in 1994 and took the lead in BUI detection efforts.

In 2002, Hesket was promoted to assistant director in charge of the Law Enforcement Boating Program, and he immediately began work to improve the image of the recreational boating program. In 2004, Hesket became the state’s boating law administrator. That same year, he carried a bill to the Kansas Legislature, proposing extensive amendments to boating-related statutes and succeeded in getting the majority of them passed unscathed.

The Bonner Award is a tribute to congressman Herbert C. Bonner of North Carolina, father of the Federal Boating Act of 1958. The award is presented to a government official for outstanding performance in the field of recreational boating safety. Any representative of state or federal government in active service or retired (living at the time of selection) is eligible for the award.

NASBLA is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety, representing recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. To learn more about how NASBLA helps keep our waterways safe, secure and enjoyable, visit

KDWPT receives $2.7 million grant for public access on private lands


On August 17, 2015, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $20 million in grants to 15 states to improve and increase wildlife habitat and public access for recreational opportunities on privately-owned and operated farm, ranch and forest lands. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) received a $2.7 million grant, the largest amount awarded to the 15 states. The grant is funded under the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentives Program (VPA-HIP), which is administered by the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

According to Jake George, KDWPT Private Land Programs Coordinator, the funds will be used over a three-year period to lease private land for hunting and fishing access and to help landowners improve habitat on those properties. Program promotion and outreach will occur this fall, with initial enrollment beginning late-spring to early-summer of 2016.

“We were very pleased to once again be awarded VPA-HIP grant funding,” George said. “Currently, KDWPT’s Walk-in Hunting Access and FISH programs have more than 1 million acres of enrolled properties and agreements with nearly 2,300 Kansas landowners, providing numerous public hunting and fishing opportunities across the state. This additional funding will allow for further expansion and improvement of the already successful access and habitat management programs offered to Kansas landowners through KDWPT.”

With respect to hunting, the focus for the funds will be on enrolling new or recently enrolled Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) properties. Participating landowners must be willing to allow public hunting access on the property for the duration of the CRP contract and enroll in wildlife-friendly conservation practices. Landowners are encouraged to enroll or re-enroll their properties in CRP between the continuous signup and the general CRP signup, which begins Dec. 1, 2015. KDWPT expects to add an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 new acres of quality access properties over the next three years.

KDWPT will also use the funds to improve fishing and paddle sports access, enrolling prime stream reaches, as well as quality privately-owned impoundments. Public access to these streams would provide a multitude of angling opportunities and open up recreational paddle sports access, which is limited in the state because most of the 10,000 miles of streams and rivers in Kansas are privately owned.

“This project with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism shows how good partnerships and land management will lead to sustainable recreational and economic opportunities for years to come. Connecting outdoor recreation to private lands conservation is good for wildlife, people, and rural economies,” said Eric B. Banks, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For more information on VPA-HIP and other FSA programs, visit

Cover Crop survey confirms benefits and points to future research

For the third year in a row, the results of an annual cover crop survey of farmers around the country confirm the benefits and expansion of cover crops on U.S. cropland.

USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program recently released the results of the 2014-2015 Cover Crop Survey, which assessed the benefits, challenges, and scale of adoption of cover crops, as well as demand for cover crop seed across the United States. The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) conducted the Cover Crop Survey with funding from USDA’s SARE program and the American Seed Trade Association.

This year’s online survey had more than 2,472 people answer at least some portion of the survey questions, and had complete responses from 1,229 respondents, which represented 47 states. Of the 1,702 farmers who responded to question of whether they had ever used cover crops on their farm, 84 percent reported that they had.

The results of the survey confirm that farmers are seeing multiple benefits from cover crops, including increased yields of corn and soybeans following the use of a cover crop. When a cover crop was planted before corn, corn yields increased by an average of 3.7 bushels per acre, or 2.1 percent. Farmers who planted a cover crop before planting soybeans saw an average soybean yield increase of 2.2 bushels per acre, or 4.2 percent.

These yield increases, while significant, are slightly lower than the yield increases found in last year’s Cover Crop Survey (3.1 percent for corn, and 4.3 percent for soy), and are lower than the 2012-2013 Cover Crop Survey yield increases (9.6 percent for corn, and 11.6 percent for soy). This large increase in yield benefits from cover crops following a drought year like 2012 can be explained by the enhanced water retention and increased soil organic matter that occurs on the working lands using cover crops.

Chad Watts, the CTIC program director, points out that many of the nutrient benefits of cover crops—including capturing nutrients before they leach from the root zone, fixing atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, and cycling nutrients for use by later cash crops—remain under-appreciated even by long-time cover crop fans. This “shows us that we have more work to do in communicating these nutrient management benefits.”


Insights amongst Non-Users


2014-2015 SARE Cover Crops Survey, page 34.

Several key findings from this year’s study give valuable insight to policymakers and others into the motivations and factors that non-users say could drive them to adopt cover crops in the future. These include:

  • Ninety-two percent of the farmers who do not currently plant cover crops say economic incentives would somewhat or always influence cover crop adoption. Similarly, while about half (46 percent) of cover crop users say they would be motivated to plant more cover crops if the practice reduced their crop insurance premiums, that number increases to 70 percent of non-users who said reduced crop insurance premiums could or would influence them to plant cover crops.
  • Nearly three-quarters of cover crop users said the market outlook for cash crop prices would have little to no impact on their decision to plant cover crops, which challenges the assumption that cover crop use is closely tied to commodity prices.


Key Findings

According to the 2015 SARE Cover Crop Survey, the three most-cited benefits among cover crop users of using cover crops were: increased overall soil health (22 percent of respondents), increased soil organic matter (20 percent of respondents), and reduced soil erosion (15 percent of respondents).


2014-2015 SARE Cover Crops Survey, page 9.

Key findings of the SARE survey include:

  • The mean amount of experience with cover crops among cover crop users was 7.33 years, based on 1,366 responses to this specific question.
  • Cover crop users in this survey projected an average cover crop acreage of 300 acres expected to plant in 2015. Those farmers also reported planting an average of 259 acres in cover crops in 2014 and an average of 225 acres in 2013 – which depicts a steady and significant increase in cover crops on their farms in the past few years, despite lower commodity prices.
  • For cover crop non-users, the vast majority of these farmers who responded to the survey employ some type of conservation tillage. Almost 25 percent of the 238 non-users employ continuous no-till, 21 percent use no-till in rotation, 20 percent report using reduced tillage methods, and 7 percent use only vertical tillage. The remaining 28 percent use conventional, full-width tillage.
  • When considering cover crop species, cereal grains and grasses were the most used cover crops, planted by 84 percent of the 1,287 cover crop users who answered this specific question. The leading species of cover crop was cereal rye, which accounted for 44 percent of the total 2014 cover crop acres planted and the same percentage projected for 2015 in this survey. Annual ryegrass was the second most widely used species, at 23 percent of the total cover crop acres planted in 2014 and the same percentage projected for 2015.
  • 57 percent of the 1,251 respondents reported planting legume cover crops in 2014, with crimson clover as the leading species, at 18 percent of the acres planted in 2014. Other top legume species included winter peas (9 percent of the 2014 acreage), cowpea (6 percent of the 2014 acreage), and red clover (5 percent of the 2014 acreage).
  • Cover crop mixes were extremely popular. Of 1,233 respondents who answered a question about planting mixes in 2014 or 2015, 67 percent said they had or would. Cover crop mixes of four or more species were most popular, representing 62,255 acres (26.3 percent) of respondents’ land in 2014 and projected to increase by 31 percent to cover 81,685 acres in 2015.
  • The most popular source of cover crop seed among 1,360 cover crop users was “company specializing in cover crop seed sales,” at 36 percent of farmer respondents, followed by “ag input retailers” at 31 percent of farmer respondents. Less common sources were “commodity crop seed dealers” with 13 percent, “another farmer” with 12 percent, and “other” with 9 percent. This year was the first time the survey addressed questions about sourcing for cover crop seed, and these results can help predict buying behavior and business opportunities for cover crop seed specialists moving forward.
  • The large majority of respondents are very conscious about the quality of their cover crop seed, seen from the results of the survey question regarding which information on cover crop seed tags was most important. Germination rate led the list with 30 percent; noxious weed content at 29 percent; and purity at 28 percent. Only 9 percent said they do not consider the information on the seed tag.
  • Row crop producers identified herbicide as their primary cover crop termination method, at 59 percent of the 934 respondents. Non-chemical means of cover crop termination are more popular amongst vegetable/horticulture crop producers, with nearly half – 49 percent of 269 farmers who answered the question – employing tillage as the primary means of termination.

The Importance of Cover Crops

In addition to the benefits of cover crops described above, research continues to explore the role of cover crops for extreme weather risk management, which is increasingly important due to climate change impacts. Healthy soils are crucial to combating the devastating effects of increased flooding, droughts, and unexpected weather events that we are seeing all over the country. Cover crops work to counter these risks through reducing soil compaction, increasing water retention and infiltration, reducing soil erosion from both wind and water, improving soil organic matter, and sequestering nitrogen. According to USDA NRCS, for each 1 percent increase in soil organic matter, U.S. cropland could store the amount of water that flows over Niagara Falls in 150 days.

The increasing popularity of cover crops has been driven by the important work that SARE has been doing for many years to evaluate, analyze and publicize the benefits of cover cropping. We will continue to partner with USDA and other organizations to promote the widespread adoption of cover crops and advocate for important programs such as SARE.

USDA announces conservation incentives for working grass, range and pasture lands

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that beginning Sept. 1, farmers and ranchers can apply for financial assistance to help conserve working grasslands, rangeland and pastureland while maintaining the areas as livestock grazing lands.

The initiative is part of the voluntary Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally funded program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. CRP has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

“A record 400 million acres and 600,000 producers and landowners are currently enrolled in USDA’s conservation programs. The Conservation Reserve Program has been one of the most successful conservation programs in the history of the country, and we are pleased to begin these grasslands incentives as we celebrate the program’s 30th year,” said Vilsack. “This is another great example of how agricultural production can work hand in hand with efforts to improve the environment and increase wildlife habitat.”

The CRP-Grasslands initiative will provide participants who establish long-term, resource-conserving covers with annual rental payments up to 75 percent of the grazing value of the land. Cost-share assistance also is available for up to 50 percent of the covers and other practices, such as cross fencing to support rotational grazing or improving pasture cover to benefit pollinators or other wildlife. Participants may still conduct common grazing practices, produce hay, mow, or harvest for seed production, conduct fire rehabilitation, and construct firebreaks and fences.

With the publication of the CRP regulation today, the Farm Service Agency will accept applications on an ongoing basis beginning Sept. 1, 2015, with those applications scored against published ranking criteria, and approved based on the competiveness of the offer. The ranking period will occur at least once per year and be announced at least 30 days prior to its start. The end of the first ranking period will be Nov. 20, 2015.

To learn more about participating in CRP-Grasslands or SAFE, visit or consult with the local Farm Service Agency county office.

USDA accepting more farmland for wildlife habitat in Kansas

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Kansas Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director Adrian J. Polansky announced that an additional 55,000 acres of agricultural land in Kansas is eligible for funding for wildlife habitat restoration.

The initiative, known as State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE), is part of the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federally-funded voluntary program that for 30 years has assisted agricultural producers with the cost of restoring, enhancing and protecting certain grasses, shrubs and trees to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. In return, USDA provides participants with rental payments and cost-share assistance. CRP has helped farmers and ranchers prevent more than 8 billion tons of soil from eroding, reduce nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to cropland by 95 and 85 percent respectively, and even sequester 43 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equal to taking 8 million cars off the road.

In total, up to 400,000 acres of additional agricultural land will be eligible for wildlife habitat restoration funding through this SAFE announcement. The additional acres are part of an earlier CRP wildlife habitat announcement made by Secretary Vilsack. Currently, more than 1 million acres, representing 98 projects, are enrolled in SAFE nationwide.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program, which has not only resulted in significant soil and water improvements, but also greater populations of waterfowl, gamebirds and other wildlife native to the rural countryside,” said Polansky. “Here in Kansas, an additional 55,000 acres in the Upland Game Bird and Lesser Prairie-Chicken SAFE projects are designed specifically to increase Ring Necked Pheasant, Northern Bobwhite Quail, Greater Prairie-Chicken and Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitats. Since establishment of the Upland Game Bird SAFE in 2008 and Lesser Prairie-Chicken SAFE in 2010, farmers and ranchers have enrolled 37,000 and 45,000 acres respectively, resulting in sustainable populations of prairie-chickens and upland game birds through one of the longest droughts in recent history. We hope to continue this progress by offering interested farmers and ranchers the opportunity to enroll another 15,000 acres in the Upland Game Bird SAFE project and 40,000 acres in the Lesser Prairie-Chicken SAFE project.”

Interested producers can offer land for enrollment in SAFE and other CRP initiatives by contacting their local FSA county office at To learn more the 30th anniversary of CRP and to review 30 success stories throughout the year, visit or follow Twitter at #CRPis30. And for more information about FSA conservation programs, visit

The Conservation Reserve Program was reauthorized by 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit

Sportsmen’s coalition defends federal fracking rule

Time to modernize 30-year-old rule to protect fish, wildlife, water

As a new federal fracking rule continues to come under fire, a national sportsmen’s coalition is defending it as a commonsense update of 30-year-old regulations aimed at safeguarding fish, wildlife, water and other valuable resources on our public lands.

The Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition reacted July 15th to criticisms aired during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The updated regulations for national public lands, released by the Bureau of Land Management in March, are intended to complement state regulations to ensure that fracking fluids and wastewater are handled safely; well casings are strong enough to stand the high-pressure fluids; and that companies disclose what chemicals they’re injecting underground.

“As the technology has advanced, where and how fracking occurs has changed dramatically in just the last 10 years while rules to safeguard our water and wildlife have not been updated for more than three decades. The BLM’s new rule is a reasonable upgrade to ensure there’s a minimum standard for national public lands that are managed for a number of uses, including hunting, fishing and recreation,” said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director.

Corey Fisher, the energy team lead for Trout Unlimited, noted that a recent Environment Protection Agency study of existing data on fracking revealed gaps in information, including the frequency of on-site spills, but did point out potential vulnerabilities to water sources such as inadequate well casings and spills of fracking wastewater.

“The BLM’s new fracking rule includes important changes to protect water quality, such as robust well-casing standards and the requirement that wastewater be stored in tanks rather than pits, which are more vulnerable to leaks and spills,” Fisher said. “These changes help address potential impacts to water resources on public lands. The EPA study makes clear the science hasn’t kept pace with the scale and scope of hydraulic fracturing. More study is needed, additional monitoring is necessary, and documented impacts necessitate a cautious approach and risk management that emphasizes avoiding impacts altogether.”

The BLM has said that where rules are at least as strong as the federal regulations, states can request a variance and companies can carry on as they have. The rule also applies to tribal lands. However, the fracking rule is on hold as a federal judge considers a challenge to the rule by the states of Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah and trade associations.

“The SFRED coalition appreciates that some of the biggest oil- and gas-producing states have taken steps to strengthen their rules and that many companies are responsible operators. However, it takes just one bad operator to seriously damage an aquifer or foul waterways that are vital to wildlife and communities,” said Ed Arnett senior scientist for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The federal fracking rule is a crucial safeguard in states without their own rules—about half the 32 states with drilling on public lands, according to the BLM. It is important that we have a minimum national standard for lands that are managed for multiple purposes and are, in fact, owned by all Americans.”

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition of more than 1500 businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on public lands. The coalition is led by Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation.

Ten Kansas deer test positive for CWD in 2014-2015

From Outdoor News Daily

A total of 640 deer were tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) during the 2014-2015 seasons, and 10 of those were confirmed positive. Samples were obtained from deer killed by hunters in southcentral and southwest parts of Kansas and from sick and/or suspect deer observed in the eastern, northcentral and northwest parts of the state. The 10 confirmed positives included two mule deer, one from Rawlins County and one from Scott County; and eight whitetails including two from Decatur County and one from each of the following counties, Norton, Meade, Hodgeman, Pawnee, Kearny, and Gray.
CWD testing began in 1996 to help track the occurrence of CWD in the state’s wild deer, and nearly 25,000 tissue samples have undergone lab analysis since. The first CWD occurrence documented in a wild Kansas deer was a whitetail doe killed by a hunter in 2005 in Cheyenne County. Seventy-four deer have tested positive since testing began, and most have occurred in northwest Kansas, specifically Decatur, Rawlins, Sheridan and Norton counties.

Although research is underway, there is currently no vaccine or other biological method of preventing CWD. The only tool is to prevent the spread of CWD to new areas. Once the infective particle (an abnormal prion) is deposited into the environment – either through an infected carcass or from a live animal – it may exist for a decade or more, capable of infecting a healthy deer.

Despite the recent occurrences, the likelihood of finding CWD in a wild deer harvested in Kansas is small. That small likelihood decreases even more the farther from northwestern Kansas the deer live. In recent years, numerous cases of CWD have been documented in neighboring areas of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

While CWD is fatal to infected deer and elk, humans have never been known to contract the disease. CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease in people.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that results in small holes developing in the brain, giving it a sponge-like appearance under the microscope. Decreased brain function causes the animal to display neurological signs such as depression, droopy head, staggering, loss of appetite, and a lack of response to people. The continuing deterioration of the brain leads to other signs such as weight loss, drooling, rough coat, and excessive thirst. Caution is advised because of unknown factors associated with prion diseases, but no human health risks have been discovered where CWD occurs. Any sick deer or elk with signs listed above or exhibiting behaviors such as stumbling, holding the head at an odd angle, walking in circles, entangled in fences or staying near farm buildings for extended periods of time should be reported to the nearest KDWPT office or the Emporia Research Office, 620-342-0658.

Hunters can help protect the health of the Kansas deer herd and slow CWD’s spread by not introducing the disease to new areas in Kansas through disposal of deer carcass waste. Avoid transporting a deer carcass from the area where it was taken, especially from areas where CWD has been detected. If the carcass is transported, dispose of carcass waste by double-bagging it and taking it to a landfill. Landowners can also bury carcasses on their own property.

The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance maintains an online clearinghouse of information about the disease. More information is also available at