Bull elk (Shutterstock)

CASPER, Wyo. — The presence of chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in three new Wyoming elk hunt areas, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said on Monday.

The presence of the disease was confirmed based on testing of lymph node samples from three hunter-harvested bull elk. The disease was confirmed in Elk Hunt Area 98 in the Pinedale Region. That elk hunt area overlays Deer Hunt Area 138, where chronic wasting disease was confirmed in January.

Chronic wasting disease was also confirmed in Elk Hunt Areas 36 and 129 in the Sheridan Region.

“Elk Hunt Area 36 is surrounded on three sides by Elk Hunt Areas 37, 46, and 35, which have been CWD-positive since 2019, 2020 and 2009, respectively,” Game and Fish said. “Elk Hunt Area 129 overlays nine CWD positive Deer Hunt Areas (8, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29) and one CWD negative Deer Hunt Area (31).”

The department announces when chronic wasting disease is confirmed in new hunt areas to ensure that hunters are aware. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discourages people from consuming meat from any animal that is “obviously ill or tests positive for CWD,” according to Game and Fish.

The department provides a map of CWD endemic areas online. Game and Fish adds that it relies on hunters to help monitor the spread of the disease.

“Throughout the fall, Game and Fish has been asking hunters to collect lymph node samples from harvested deer and elk for CWD testing in focused monitoring hunt areas across Wyoming,” the department said. “Hunters are an important component in helping Game and Fish understand the disease and achieve CWD monitoring goals. When hunters submit samples, they are entered into a prize raffle.”

Game and Fish has been conducting efforts to monitor the spread of chronic wasting disease for over two decades. The department said that wildlife managers believe the disease will be found in new deer and elk hunt areas based on past surveillance.

“In 2020, Game and Fish personnel tested 6,496 CWD samples and continue to evaluate new recommendations for trying to manage the disease,” the department said. “So far, over 3,600 samples have been tested in 2021.”

“Please visit the Game and Fish website for more information on chronic wasting disease testing, transmission and regulations on transportation and disposal of carcasses.”