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Current Bovine Tuberculosis Surveillance in Indiana Deer

2018 bovine tuberculosis sampling

A total of 2,047 hunter-harvested deer were sampled for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) during the 2016–17 hunting season, and a total of 541 hunter-harvested deer were sampled during the 2017–18 season. All hunter-harvested deer sampled tested negative for bTB. These results suggest that, through the 2017–18 hunting season, the prevalence of bTB in wild deer within the bTB surveillance zone remained at levels that were undetectable by the methods deployed.

As a result, the Indiana DNR will not conduct the intensive bTB surveillance in Fayette and Franklin counties during the 2018-2019 hunting season that was conducted during the past two years. However, DNR will continue to partner with hunters to collect voluntary samples from deer harvested in a smaller focal area in Franklin County, from Laurel, north to just past the Franklin/Fayette county line. DNR’s goal is to sample as many deer as possible from this focal area. Hunter participation in this effort would be greatly appreciated. For concerned hunters, DNR will accept samples for bTB testing from deer harvested outside the focal area, but still within the 2017 bTB surveillance zone.

A DNR check station will be located in the parking lot of the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site maintenance facility at 19083 Clayborn Street, Metamora, IN 47030. A DNR biologist will be collecting samples for bTB testing on weekends beginning Nov. 3 through Dec. 23, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. After hours, hunters may drop off deer heads in the designated drop box located at the check station. In addition, drop-off locations will be established at two area businesses for hunters to drop off deer heads for bTB testing that will later be collected by a DNR biologist. Please call ahead for business hours:

  • Hunter’s Choice Deer Processing at 6164 Highland Center Road, Brookville, IN 47012; 513-403-7667
  • Mustin’s Taxidermy and Processing at 1660 W County Road 350S, Connersville, IN 47331; 765-698-4960

2018-2019 bTB Surveillance Map

For questions about submitting your deer for bTB testing, call 812-322-2633.

What if a deer tests positive for bTB?

DNR has established a response plan if a wild white-tailed deer tests positive for bTB during the 2018-2019 sampling. The response will depend on the sex and age of the infected animal and the genetics of the bTB bacteria found in that deer.

  • If a single buck tests positive for bTB and the genetics of the bTB indicate that the deer was infected from a bTB-positive farm prior to 2015:
    • DNR will determine the precise location where the deer was harvested.
    • No additional deer will be removed for control purposes.
    • Surveillance efforts will increase the next year, centered on that location.
  • If a single buck tests positive for bTB, and the genetics of the bTB indicate that the deer was infected from a bTB positive farm in 2016 or later OR if a single fawn or doe tests positive for bTB:
    • DNR will determine the precise location where the deer was harvested.
    • Biologists will identify the maternal and/or buck groups that use the area where the infected deer was harvested.
    • Maternal and/or buck groups whose home ranges overlap with the identified area will be removed. A group of deer may consist of eight to 25 deer.
    • Surveillance efforts will increase the next year, centered on that location.

What happens when a deer is submitted for bTB testing?

The lymph nodes in the neck and head are removed and submitted to two laboratories for testing. The samples are first sent to the Purdue Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab for initial testing that involves microscopically examining them for evidence of infection with bTB bacteria. Test results are typically available in two to three weeks and will be posted online within a few days of receipt by DNR.

The samples are also submitted to the National Veterinary Services Lab (NVSL) for a more conclusive test known as a culture. Culturing is considered the most reliable disease testing and increases our confidence in the overall surveillance effort. If bTB bacteria are present, the cultured samples will grow the bacteria under controlled conditions. Because bTB bacteria grow very slowly, test results may take three to four months to complete. The results will be posted online as soon as they are available.

Hunters may view results for a submitted deer. If the result is positive, DNR will contact the hunter who submitted the deer.

More information


Contact Joe Caudell, State Deer Biologist, 812-334-1137