So far, Missouri has been relatively unscathed by chronic wasting disease, an ailment that’s 100 percent fatal to deer and elk and renders their meat inedible.
But the spread of the disease in nearby states is enough to stoke concern among officials in Missouri, where a serious threat to the deer population could harm an industry that’s worth an estimated $1 billion to the state economy each year.
Only 75 cases of CWD have been found in Missouri since the first case was detected in the wild in 2012. But the disease has spread widely in deer and elk herds in places including Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin.
There hasn’t been an effective method identified to stop the spread of the disease, but one option that has emerged is culling — that is, targeted extermination of deer within a certain radius of a positive CWD test.
The Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri landowners have killed about 4,600 deer since the start of culling in 2013. The department has spent $2.15 million on those efforts.
Read more: Springfield News-Leader