Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Two hunter-harvested buck mule deer in northeast Wyoming have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Chronic wasting disease is a brain disease that, once active, is thought to be 100 percent fatal in deer, elk and moose.

The two deer were both shot on Oct. 3, one northeast of Buffalo near Lake DeSmet in deer hunt area 26, and the other 7 1/2 miles east of Kaycee, in deer hunt area 29.

Personnel at the Game and Fish Department laboratory discovered the infected animals in the process of the department"s annual CWD survey.

"This is the first time we have found CWD in these two hunt areas," said Warren Mischke, spokesman for the Game and Fish Department's Sheridan Region.

The department recommends that deer hunters from areas 26 and 29 transport only the following items: cut and wrapped meat, boned meat, animal quarters or other pieces with no portion of the spinal column or head attached, hides without the head, cleaned skull plates with no meat or nervous tissue attached and antlers with no meat or other tissue attached.

The head, spine and other nervous tissue should be left at the site of the kill or disposed of in an approved landfill.

Rubber or latex gloves should be worn when field dressing any animal and during butchering, according to Mischke.

Chronic Wasting disease has been diagnosed in some wild deer, elk and moose in 11 states and two Canadian provinces, but there is no confirmed link between CWD and any human illness.

Nonetheless, to avoid any risk, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people not consume parts or products from any animal that looks sick or tests positive for CWD.

The disease was first discovered in free-ranging elk in Wyoming in 1986, white-tailed deer in 1990 and mule deer in 1992, all in the southeast corner of the state, said Hank Edwards, wildlife disease biologist with the Game and Fish Department.

Although the disease's progress through the state is slow, it also appears to be steady, he said.

"It's definitely moving both north and west from the historical endemic area," Edwards said.

Many conservationists fear that if the disease ever reaches the elk feedgrounds in western Wyoming, it will decimate the elk herds there in much the same way the disease has caused catastrophic kills of elk raised on elk farms.

Officials with the Game and Fish Department say it's impossible to predict if CWD would decimate feedground elk the way it has farm elk, because the animals on feedgrounds live in close proximity for only a few months a year, as opposed to year-round as they do on farms.

Source: Casper Tribune

No comments: