By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

With all of the samples tested, Kansas appears to be headed to a year with only 10 cases of chronic wasting disease detected in deer.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will continue to test road-killed deer or deer killed to prevent depredation, but that's a relatively small number.

KDWP wildlife disease coordinator Shane Hesting on Wednesday said it's likely only another 100 or so samples will be taken, while the number of samples taken during the state's hunting seasons numbered in excess of 2,500.

Ten of those samples came back positive for CWD, an always-fatal brain-wasting disease known to infect deer.

That's the same as last year, but down from the 15 found in 2009.

CWD in free-ranging deer was first found in 2005 in a single deer sampled in Cheyenne County. Two years later, deer in Decatur County were found to be infected with CWD. Infected deer have been found each year since then.

While the numbers compare to a year ago, there are subtle differences.

One deer, a yearling, was found in eastern Smith County, near Kensington.

That would be the eastern-most infected deer so far, although Hesting notes yearling deer are known to travel greater distances and could have come from the north, where infected deer also have been found.

This also is the first year a CWD-infected mule deer was found. In the past, they've all been white-tailed deer.

An infected deer also was found in Norton County, but it was up close to Decatur County -- the hot spot for CWD in Kansas. There were six infected deer found in Decatur County.

Infected deer also were found in Sherman and Graham counties.

Although Hesting said he's not surprised by the Smith County detection, its isolation is stark.

"It makes me wonder about Phillips County sitting in the middle with nothing detected yet," he said.

There were a significant number of samples taken in Phillips County.

That's not the case in several other counties, including Cheyenne, Wallace, Thomas and Logan counties, for example.

Only five samples were collected in Cheyenne County, the starting point for CWD in free-ranging deer. Only a smattering of samples were taken in the other counties.

Southwest Kansas is even worse. Nothing was collected in Greeley and Grant counties, for example, and only one in Wichita and Stanton counties.

Most of that is because there's no one to collect the samples, Hesting said.

Hesting said he had 55 contract collectors this year, paying them $4 a head if that's all that was collected or $12 each if they excise the samples needed to perform the test.

He's hopeful KDWP will continue to receive a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to continue the free CWD testing program. With the money, the agency is able to pay people to collect the samples as well as cover the cost of the tests at Kansas State University.

"I haven't had a call for a proposal yet," he said of the paperwork needed to support the request for the money. "Last year, I submitted a proposal on April 15.

"I think the hunters appreciate it."