ST. CHARLES, Mo. ( -- The Missouri Department of Conservation is conducting a mandatory sampling of harvested deer, including counties surrounding St. Louis, for chronic wasting disease (CWD) this weekend, the opening of deer season.

Hunters who harvest deer in the 31 select counties this weekend must present their deer at a sampling station so staff can collect tissue samples to test the animals.

According to a press release from the Missouri Department of Conservation, a doe was found with the contagious, deadly brain disease in south central Missouri two weeks ago. They report that there have been 76 cases of the disease since 2012.

“Sampling deer that show possible signs of CWD is one important piece of our surveillance efforts, and we greatly appreciate the public’s assistance,” MDC Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten said.

This is the first deer found dead in Missouri that has tested positive for the disease the CDC has put in the same group as the, "mad cow disease."

Hunters are required to present any harvested deer at one of the MDC sampling stations. 

The Weldon Spring sampling station in St. Charles will be the most closely-accessible station from the St. Louis metro area.

Click here for more information on CWD mandatory sampling stations.

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