The Indiana DNR is asking deer hunters for help with a disease surveillance program in Franklin and Fayette counties.
State biologists are sampling deer harvested from portions of those two counties for bovine tuberculosis. After a slow start to the deer firearms season, however, the program is running behind. Biologists have collected just 16 percent of the samples needed to reach their surveillance goal, largely because of weather.
Firearms season started for deer this past Saturday and runs through Dec. 3. Opening weekend was affected by thunderstorms and warm temperatures, which resulted in a lower harvest compared to previous opening weekends.
For example, the combined two-day first-weekend harvest in Franklin and Fayette counties was down about 60 percent from 2016.
The DNR is asking those who hunt in the surveillance zone to help it collect samples. The preference is for bucks that are 2 years old or older, but all deer will be accepted for testing. The DNR hopes to sample between 500 and 1,200 deer, depending on age.
The surveillance zone is 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. See a map at wildlife.IN.gov/9320.htm.
Surveillance involves collecting and testing lymph nodes from the head and neck of deer harvested by hunters and voluntarily submitted for evaluation.
Hunters can bring their deer to a biological check station at the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site maintenance facility in Metamora, 19083 Clayborn St., and to Mustin’s Processing in Connersville, or Hunters Choice in Brookville.
Hunters who submit a deer for testing will be entered into a drawing for 1 of 10 authorizations to take an additional buck from anywhere in Indiana (with landowner permission) during the 2018-2019 deer hunting season. Hunters who bring the DNR a buck at least 2 years old will receive 10 entries into the drawing. Hunters who bring in does that are at least 2 years old will receive three entries into the drawing. Hunters who bring in yearlings will receive one entry into the drawing. Entries are cumulative — hunters who bring in multiple deer will have an even better chance of winning.
DNR will continue to collect samples from deer harvested within this “bTB” surveillance zone through Jan. 7 (excluding Thanksgiving and several days around Christmas).
For more information, visit wildlife.IN.gov/9320.htm.