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DNR officials have scrapped plans to conduct chronic wasting disease sampling on deer killed in and around Hardy County. Concerns over COVID-19 prompted the move.

In an ordinary year, Division of Natural Resources biologists would be in Hardy County during the first two days of the buck firearm season, testing hunters’ deer for chronic wasting disease.

This is no ordinary year.

Concerned that hunters might spread COVID-19 to DNR staff, or vice-versa, agency officials have canceled this year’s sampling effort.

“This was done solely for the purpose of protecting hunters and our employees,” said Paul Johansen, the DNR’s wildlife chief. “We needed to avoid situations where people wouldn’t be able to maintain the appropriate social distance.

“I’ve worked enough check stations to know it can be hectic, and it’s sometimes difficult to keep the sort of distance recommended by the state. With that in mind, we chose to err on the side of being as safe as we could.”

Aware that some hunters might want to have their deer tested for the disease, DNR officials are providing a way for them to do so.

Hunters who wish to have a deer tested should bring it, or the head of the carcass with the upper part of the neck attached, to the DNR’s District 2 office in Romney.

The office is located at 1 Depot Street, located on the north end of town off W.Va. Route 28. Hunters should call 304-822-3551 between 8:30 and 4:30 p.m. to make sure DNR staff are available to perform the sampling.

The service is available during the archery, muzzleloader and antlerless seasons as well as the buck season.

Reach John McCoy at, 304-348-1231, or follow

@GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.