Post-Season Targeted Culling

Targeted Culling Helps Reduce the Spread of CWD

After the close of deer hunting season, MDC staff work with landowners on a voluntary basis in the immediate areas around where recent cases of CWD have been found to harvest and test additional deer for CWD from mid-January to mid-March.

Post-season targeted culling is the only tested method of slowing the growth of CWD in a local deer population. States such as Illinois have had success in stabilizing the level of CWD in areas through targeted culling. Limiting the number of CWD-infected deer in an area also helps minimize the accumulation of CWD in the local environment.

MDC does NOT conduct targeted culling on a county-wide level. Targeted culling occurs in locations within 1-5 miles of CWD detections. The exact size of the culling operation depends on the number of positives detected and where they were found.

Targeted Culling Increases Sample Numbers From CWD Areas

MDC scientists use post-season targeted culling to increase the number of CWD samples collected in areas where CWD has been found. Increasing the number of samples taken from these area helps MDC scientists better understand how many deer in the area may be infected and where they are. This is critical in helping MDC scientists design and apply effective ways to limit the spread of the disease through various actions.

Targeted Culling Has Small Numbers With Large Results

MDC has tested more than 100,000 deer for CWD since it began testing for the disease in 2001. Of those more than 100,000 deer, approximately 4,600 have been harvested through targeted culling.

Post-season targeted culling accounts for about 4% of all CWD samples collected so far – but has resulted in finding about 48% of CWD cases in Missouri.

Deer Harvested During Winter Targeted Culling Operations
Location Spring 2010 Winter 2012 Winter 2013 Winter 2014 Winter 2015 Winter 2016 Winter 2017 Winter 2018  Total
Total 148 654 99 147 349 889 755 1485 4626
Northeast Missouri 148 654 --- --- --- --- --- --- 802
Macon-Linn Core Area --- --- 99 147 154 131 140 214 885
Adair Core Area --- --- --- --- 195 274 179 293 941
Cole Surveillance Zone --- --- --- --- --- 176 77 --- 253
Linn Surveillance Zone --- --- --- --- --- 171 68 45 284
North Franklin Core Area
(Surveillance Zone in 2016, transitioned to Core Area in 2017) 
--- --- --- --- --- 137 35 41 213
SW Franklin Core Area
(Surveillance Zone in 2017, transitioned to Core Area in 2018)
--- --- --- --- --- --- 98 86 184
Jefferson Core Area
(Surveillance Zone in 2017, transitioned to Core Area in 2018) 
--- --- --- --- --- --- 158 141 299
Linn-Sullivan Core Area --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 151 151
Ste Genevieve Core Area --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 105 105
St Clair Core Area --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 409 409

MDC Post-Season Targeted Culling Areas

Areas in red show current post-season-targeted culling. Gray sections show past areas of targeted culling.

View a larger version of this map.

Increased Landowner Harvest During Deer Season

During deer season, MDC allows for additional numbers of deer to be harvested beyond normal limits for landowners with five or more acres in core areas where CWD has been found. While this additional harvest is helpful, the number of deer harvested by landowners through this method is not enough to limit the spread of CWD to more deer in an area or to other areas.

Targeted Culling Is Voluntary for Landowners

MDC staff ALWAYS get permission from affected landowners before any targeting culling occurs. Landowners have the choice to allow or refuse targeting culling on their lands. Participating landowners either get written authorization from MDC to harvest deer on their land or give permission to MDC shooting teams to harvest the deer.

Hunting Regulations Are Different for Targeted Culling

To maximize the effectiveness of post-season targeted culling, landowners and MDC shooting teams may deviate from hunting-season regulation restrictions. With permission from MDC, they may use spotlights or place limited amounts of bait to help harvest targeted deer on designated areas.  

What Happens To Deer Harvested Through Targeted Culling?

Deer harvested through targeted culling that do not test positive for CWD are offered to the participating landowners or donated to the Share the Harvest Program for local food banks and food pantries. Deer that test positive for CWD are properly disposed of by MDC staff or meat processors.