Friday, March 12, 2010

UTAH NEWS: CWD Detected in Elk

The first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in an Utah elk has been confirmed by state wildlife officials.

Lymph nodes from 1,400 animals -- the bulk of them mule deer and elk, but also some moose -- were collected last fall during the hunting seasons.

Results from Utah State University were returned to Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) officials recently. Five of the mule deer samples came back as positive for CWD,
a fatal and transmissible neurological disease.

One of the 300 elk samples also came back positive. None of the moose tests showed signs of CWD. The positive elk sample came from a cow elk taken in the La Sal Mountains east of Moab.

"It was not really a surprise," said Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease specialist with the DWR. "It came from an area where we have the highest prevalence of CWD in deer in the state. Elk do not have a high prevalence of the disease."

Thirty-four of the 48 cases of CWD infected deer have come from the La Sals. Another hot spot for CWD in deer is south and east of Mount Nebo in central Utah where seven, including two this year, have originated.

McFarlane said all but one of the positive samples came from animals killed by hunters. The other was a sickly-looking deer reported by the public on the La Sals.

None of the moose samples came back positive. There was some fear that it could have spread into northern Utah after a cow moose in southwestern Wyoming showed up positive in the fall of 2008.

There have been few developments in research or preventing the spread of CWD in the last year and McFarlane said the state wildlife agency is sticking with its position on the threat to people.

"There is no connection of any kind with human health issues," she said. However, McFarlane and the agency still encourages people to avoid eating any big game animals that appear sick and to use caution when handling animals in the field.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

MARYLAND NEWS: Deer Can Be Destructive Indoors, Too

So you're sitting in your home on a quiet Sunday afternoon, when all of a sudden a thunderous roar erupts. You get up to find that two deer have smashed through your front door. One is stuck in the door and the other is now in a tornadic tantrum in your living room.

This was the reality for WTOP staffer Pat Puglisi at his home in Damascus Sunday.

"Suddenly, there was a noise that sounded like the roof came off the house," recalls Puglisi.

"Debris was flying, chairs were coming apart, pots and pans were crashing. It was clear that these two deer had hit my front door like a SWAT team."

Scrambling to make sense of the situation, Puglisi was finally able to usher one deer out another door. The other deer stuck in the glass of the front door was seriously hurt and eventually put down by police.

Traumatic experience? You bet. Costly, too. But as it turns out, this sort of thing is not all that uncommon, especially considering what the deer population looks like in Maryland right now.

"Generally, if you have 20 to 30 deer per square mile, most people can live with that," says Brian Eyler, deer project leader for Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.

"However, right now, in some urban and suburban areas there are 80 to 100 deer per square mile."

The main reason for the population explosion? A lack of predators.

"Humans are pretty much the only predator left when it comes to deer," says Eyler.

"Suburban developments are very good deer habitats -- but a lot of times, hunting is out of the picture. So if you take hunting out of the equation, there's nothing left to control the population."

Eyler says the average deer sets up a "home range" in square miles that is not all that expansive. When there are offspring, those deer also will set up a home range -- often overlapping the original area. Without any predator, the deer survive, thrive and multiply.

State Farm Insurance estimates that every year, about 25,000 accidents on Maryland roads are caused by deer.

Source: WTOP