FESTUS, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Conservation is reminding residents that wild deer are not pets – even if you paint the word "pet" on the deer.
According to a post on the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, the state conservation agency responded to rural Festus, Missouri this week in response to a deer that had been painted. The deer had the word "pet" on it and was wearing a collar.
Authorities warned that deer should never be considered pets – and they shouldn’t be moved from their natural habitat because of chronic wasting disease. Orphaned wildlife should be reported to the conservation office.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease that infects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer and moose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms can take more than a year to develop in infected animals, and some animals may die without ever showing symptoms. There are no treatments or vaccines for CWD.
The CDC says there are no known human cases of CWD, but studies suggest it poses a risk to some non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from infected animals or come into contact with infected brain or body fluids.
"These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people," the CDC says.