Diseased deer found near elk winter feeding grounds - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Diseased deer found near elk winter feeding grounds

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CASPER, Wyo. — A hunter-harvested mule buck deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a neurological disease fatal to deer, elk and moose.

The buck was found in a hunting area near elk winter feeding grounds.

Wyoming Game and Fish said on Wednesday, Sept. 2 that this hunting area had seen no confirmed CWD cases prior to this.

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“’Seeing a deer test positive for CWD west of the continental divide again is concerning,’ said Scott Edberg, deputy chief of wildlife. ‘Game and Fish is always concerned about the spread of CWD. We have conducted CWD surveillance for more than two decades and have focused efforts on monitoring the disease and those methods continue this year.’”

The buck was located in hunt area 152 which is roughly 12 miles west of Bondurant on Willow Creek, Game and Fish says. It was a part of the Sublette deer herd.

“CWD has been previously detected in mule deer nearby hunt area 152- one south of Afton in 2016, one south of Pinedale in 2017 and one north of Jackson in 2019,” Game and Fish says.

The disease has not previously been detected in elk winter feeding grounds or the National Elk Refuge.

“Game and Fish and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have provided supplemental feed to elk during the winter months for more than 100 years,” Game and Fish says. “Feedgrounds maintain elk population objectives while also maximizing separation of elk from cattle to prevent property damage and minimize brucellosis transmission to cattle.”

“However, feedgrounds concentrate large numbers of elk in small areas for several months, increasing the potential for the spread of diseases among elk, including CWD. Currently in Wyoming the prevalence rate of CWD in elk is typically less than in deer. “

Game and Fish says that animals exhibiting CWD symptoms are killed and sampled.

“Game wardens, wildlife biologists and other employees are trained to collect CWD samples whenever possible (e.g. hunter-killed animals, vehicle-killed animals and targeted removals) in an effort to maximize sample collection and associated disease detection,” they add.

“Education is also a large component of monitoring CWD. Game and Fish has a website to inform  hunters of current CWD protocols and connect the public to wildlife managers. Further, Game and Fish is in the midst of revising the agency’s CWD management plan through a public collaborative process. Next year, Game and Fish will conduct a public process for a management plan specifically geared toward managing CWD on feedgrounds.”

They also provided the following information for hunters and the public:

Game and Fish reminds hunters and the public they play a significant role in monitoring the distribution of this disease and provide valuable information for managing CWD. If you see a deer, elk or moose that appears to be sick or not acting in a normal manner, please contact your local game wardenwildlife biologist or Game and Fish office immediately. 

Please visit the Game and Fish website for more information on chronic wasting disease transmission and regulations on transportation and disposal of carcasses. The Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that people should not eat deer, elk or moose that test positive for CWD.

Wyoming Game and Fish