While deer season slowly approaches, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) keeps making headlines and eating away at the flourishing whitetail populations across the country.

A yearling doe killed during the 2011 season in Sumner County marks the first deer to test positive for CWD in south-central Kansas. Nine deer tested positive for CWD out of 2,400 samples that were sent for testing last year, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Of the nine positive results, six were from northwest Kansas, while Ford, Stafford and Sumner counties reported their first ever case of CWD.

CWD first showed up in Kansas in 2001 in the northwest corner of the state, but has slowly been moving south and east over the last few years. Since 1996, when CWD testing was first put into place, there have been 49 confirmed cases of CWD out of approximately 23,500 deer that were tested.

Alarm bells are ringing in Iowa, the whitetail mecca, as state officials verified the first case of CWD on a hunting preserve in southern Iowa. It’s believed that this is an isolated incident, but the disease has a long incubation period and it could be up to five years before other animals start to show signs of CWD. While there’s no evidence that CWD can spread to humans or domestic livestock, it can be spread between deer, elk and moose.

Since 2002, when CWD was first found in neighboring Wisconsin, Iowa has tested more than 42,000 wild deer and more than 4,000 captive deer and elk to monitor the spread of the disease. Every state surrounding Iowa has deer that have tested positive for CWD.

With the first CWD case in Iowa now confirmed, the DNR plans on increasing their testing efforts by working with hunters and landowners to collect samples from hunter harvested deer beginning this fall.

It’s scary to watch a disease like CWD spread through a valuable resource like the whitetail deer. Scarier still is the fact that all we can do at this time is monitor the spread of the disease as there’s currently no cure for it. CWD knows no boundaries and it’s frightening to think that one day this disease could spread to the deer herd you’ll be hunting this fall.