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DNR Bovine TB Response Earns Regional Award
Indiana Ag Connection - 09/14/2017

A DNR program to monitor the health of a deer population threatened by disease has earned the agency honors.

The Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (MAFWA) selected Indiana's bovine tuberculosis surveillance team as recipient of its annual Excellence in Conservation award. DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife director Mark Reiter accepted the award at the 2017 MAFWA meeting in Nebraska recently.

Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial disease that affects primarily cattle, but can be transmitted to any warm-blooded animal. In April 2016, the disease showed up in a wild deer culled for testing on a Franklin County cattle farm. As a result, the agency expanded a pre-existing tuberculosis monitoring area and ramped up sampling efforts during the 2016-2017 hunting season.

Sampling involves collecting and testing lymph nodes from the necks of harvested deer.

The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) set a goal of collecting roughly 2,000 samples from deer in all of Franklin County and parts of Dearborn and Fayette counties. Samples had to be collected from deer volunteered by hunters.

"It seemed like an impossible feat to all of us," said Mitch Marcus, wildlife section chief with DFW. "Thanks to outstanding cooperation from hunters, 2,042 samples were collected. It was an overwhelming success."

No deer tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.

Because of hunter cooperation, the DNR did not have to initiate a back-up plan of using paid sharpshooters to cull additional deer. That plan would have cost an estimated $1.3 million and would have resulted in the death of more deer than during a normal hunting season.

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