Hunters can help monitor the deer population in eastern Indiana for bovine tuberculosis by voluntarily submitting harvested deer to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for testing.

The IDNR Division of Fish & Wildlife plans to establish a new bovine tuberculosis surveillance zone for the area south of State Road 44 and west of State Road 1 in Fayette County and in the northwest portion of Franklin County, west of Brookville Lake.

Bovine tuberculosis is a chronic bacterial disease that affects primarily cattle, but can be transmitted to any mammal. In 2016, the disease was detected in a deer culled for testing from a Franklin County cattle farm affected by bovine tuberculosis.

Surveillance involves collecting and testing lymph nodes from the head and neck of deer harvested by hunters and voluntarily submitted for evaluation.

The IDNR is asking those who hunt in the surveillance zone to help it collect samples from between 500-1,200 deer. The preference is for bucks that are 2 years old or older, but all deer will be accepted for testing.

A biological check station staffed by IDNR employees will be located at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site maintenance facility, 19083 Clayborn St., Metamora, with additional drop-off locations around the area.

Hunters must check in their deer online within 12 hours of harvest to obtain a confirmation number, then bring the deer to the biological check station within the same 12-hour period after harvest.

Hunters who submit a deer for testing from the surveillance area will have their names entered into a drawing for an additional buck privilege that can be used during the 2018 hunting season anywhere in the state. Ten hunters will win an extra buck privilege.

A larger bovine tuberculosis surveillance zone established for the 2016 hunting season resulted in the collection of more than 2,000 samples. None tested positive for the disease.

Because of hunter cooperation, the IDNR 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 resulted in additional deer being taken after the normal hunting season.

The IDNR hopes for similar support from hunters again this year.

For more information, or to help, visit the IDNR bovine tuberculosis webpage at wildlife.IN.gov/9320.htm

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