Information on Chronic Wasting Disease for Hunters
September 26, 2017
From our friends at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department: The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is reminding hunters that chronic wasting disease (CWD), a fatal disease caused by prions that impacts deer, elk, and moose has been documented across much of Wyoming. A prion is a protein that can cause a disease where normal proteins in the brain fold abnormally. More CWD information is available online from the Game and Fish and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For several years Game and Fish has been asking hunters to help monitor the disease by getting their harvested animals tested. Game and Fish also shares the CDC recommendation that hunters should strongly consider getting their animals tested if they are harvested in a known CWD endemic area.
“Game and Fish really appreciates all hunters who submit samples and we want the public to know what human health agencies have to say about the disease, including recommendations on not consuming meat from a CWD-positive animal. The public plays a very important role in taking on CWD,” said Scott Edberg, deputy chief of the Wildlife Division. “We, in turn, try to provide current information to the public including maps of the CWD endemic areas on our website.” Because CWD has moved into Wyoming’s western areas, Game and Fish puts extra focus on that area and asks hunters to bring in their harvested deer, elk or moose for sampling to get a better understanding of CWD presence and distribution by species and prevalence rates. To submit a sample, hunters have several options:
- Game and Fish check stations – these are established throughout the state during big game seasons.
- In the field – when in contact with a game warden, wildlife biologist, or other employee who are collecting CWD samples.
- Wyoming State Veterinary Lab – Hunters wishing to have their animal tested outside the Department’s monitoring program may contact the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab in Laramie for details and cost. The telephone number is (307) 766-9925.
- Select meat processors and taxidermists – in certain locations during opening day or few days after seasons open, a Game and Fish employee is present at some of these businesses. Availability varies greatly across the state.
- Game and Fish regional offices – in many cases if a hunter stops at a Game and Fish office to get a CWD sample collected, the hunter may have to leave the head at the office until such time a warden or biologist is available to take the sample as they are in the field a majority of the hunting season. But, stop by to check or call first to see what arrangements can be made.
- Hunters can collect a CWD sample themselves and bring it to a Game and Fish region office. Watch a video of how to collect this sample. To submit, hunters will need to bring their hunting license and know the location where the animal was harvested.
Game and Fish cautions that the testing program is not focused on ensuring meat quality. Game and Fish supports the CDC recommendations that the public not eat any animal that is obviously ill or tests positive for CWD. Game and Fish also urges hunters to wear rubber or latex gloves as a general precaution against all diseases when field dressing an animal.
CWD has now been in found in Deer Hunt Area 19, southwest of Gillette.
“There are some tips that Game and Fish offers on the best ways to make sure hunters submit a usable CWD sample,” Edberg said. “We need the unfrozen and unrotten – fresher the better – head of any deer, elk or moose with the upper portion of the neck attached. The sampling process takes about 5-10 minutes.” Game and Fish will also ask for the hunt area and a specific location where the harvest occurred. If a sample tests positive and adequate contact information is provided, the hunter will be notified. Hunters who participate in Game and Fish’s CWD surveillance program by providing deer, elk, or moose tissue samples and provide adequate information, can obtain their test results at: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/services/education/cwd/surveillance/frmlookup.aspx. For more information about CWD in Wyoming, visit the Game and Fish website. For more information about CWD in North America, visit the CWD Alliance website.