Yearly Archives: 2005

CWD detected in Units 109 and 84

Late Season Hunters Encouraged to Submit Heads for Testing

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has detected chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer in two new game management units (GMU’s) where it was not previously detected in eastern Colorado. The new units are GMU 109 north of Burlington and GMU 84 west of Pueblo. One animal was reported to the DOW by a landowner west of Bonny Reservoir. It was in poor physical condition at the time of death. The second animal, in GMU 84, was a road kill picked up by DOW personnel west of Pueblo on Highway 96. Tissues from both animals were submitted to Colorado State University’s Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory and both had positive test results. In addition, two more deer harvested by hunters at Fort Carson in GMU 591 this year tested positive for CWD. Some late hunting seasons in Colorado continue through the end of January, and all successful hunters are encouraged to submit their animals for testing. In some units, including Fort Carson, the DOW has waived CWD testing fees encourage more hunters to have their animals tested. So far this year over 5,000 elk, 6,000 deer and 133 moose had been tested in Colorado. Elk submissions by hunters were down about 15 percent despite an increase in over the counter license sales of about eight percent, suggesting hunter interest in testing is waning or harvest was down or both. Chronic Wasting Disease affects the brains of deer, elk and moose. Brain tissue of infected animals degenerates causing weight loss, abnormal behavior and eventually, death. For more information about CWD, log onto: wildlife.state.co.us/cwd/index.asp

Chronic Wasting Disease Update

CWD UPDATE 68 December 23, 2005

Governor Robert L. Ehrlich of Maryland has granted an emergency exemption to Maryland’s strict laws regulating the importation of cervids. After appeals from grade school children, the Governor issued a proclamation pre-empting the law; stating that “All flying reindeer, including one with a red nose that glows, are permitted to enter the state of Maryland’s airspace during the very late hours of December 25.” Without the proclamation, one Mr. Santa Claus would have been subject to arrest and fines if he crossed the Maryland state line with Dasher, Prancer, Blitzen, and their buddies.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission collected 7,381 samples during the 2005 rifle deer season for CWD sampling. Of these, 15 tested positive, all from the endemic area in the Panhandle of the state. This is down from the 29 positives found last year during the hunting seasons. An encouraging note is that no new counties or locations were found with positive CWD animals and no additional positives were found in the areas where we had “sparks” last year.

Wisconsin DNR reports a total of 50 positives so far this year from 10,005 returned results. A total of 21,811 samples have been submitted to the lab with additional samples being collected at this time. Seven of the positives have come from the Herd Reduction Zone with the remainder coming from the Disease Eradication Zone.

The Illinois DNR reports nine additional cases of CWD in the northern part of their state so far this fall. This brings the total number of cases detected to 30. The current distribution of CWD in Illinois consists primarily of a core area northeast of Rockford in which the disease is most common, with scattered cases occurring infrequently at distances up to about 20 miles around it. There were two cases in McHenry County in 2002 but they have yet to find additional positives in that area.

Saskatchewan Environment reports they have now detected 14 new cases of CWD during the 2005 hunt season. All are in previously designated herd reduction areas- 1 female white-tailed deer in herd reduction area 50, one mule deer female in herd reduction area 47 and 1 male and 11 female mule deer in herd reduction area 14. There are several hundred samples waiting to be tested and the hunt season does not end in the herd reduction areas until December 17th.

First Case Made in Cervid Importation Law is Reminder of State’s Chronic Wasting Disease Concerns

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources has prosecuted its first case for a violation of an importation law that prohibits bringing cervid carcasses into Tennessee from states where local wildlife officials have concerns about chronic wasting disease.

A Maury County hunter charged in the case killed a mule deer in Nebraska, transported the carcass to Tennessee, and had the meat processed locally. He then took its head to a taxidermist, according to the TWRA.

The law recently passed last year by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission-governing body of TWRA-prohibits the importation, transportation, or possession in Tennessee of a cervid carcass, or carcass part, from states where chronic wasting disease is known to have occurred.

However, there are exceptions to the law provided specific precautions are taken, according to the TWRA.

Those exceptions are:

  • Meat that has had all bones removed
  • Meat that has no portion of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls (where no meat or tissues are attached to the skull.)
  • Cleaned teeth.
  • Finished taxidermy and antler products.
  • Hides and or tanned parts

“This regulation was passed to help protect Tennessee’s deer herd from the possibility of chronic wasting disease, which can be devastating to deer populations,” noted Steve Patrick, the manager of TWRA’s Region II office.

Chronic wasting disease is not known to hurt humans. The Maury County hunter paid a fine for the violation and had his animal confiscated. However, he was given the antlers, skull, and head after they had been cleaned, according to the wildlife agency.

States listed on the chronic wasting disease list-where cervid carcasses must be properly dressed/processed before they can be brought to Tennessee–are: Colorado, Nebraska, Utah, Illinois, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Kansas, New York, Wyoming, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Montana, and South Dakota. Also, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

More information can be found about the law on page 1 of the 2005 Tennessee Hunting & Trapping Guide, available from businesses where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Game Commission Bans Importation of Certain Carcass Parts From States With CWD

HARRISBURG – Using newly-granted emergency powers, Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Vern Ross today issued an order banning the importation of specific carcass parts from states and Canadian provinces where CWD had been identified in free-ranging cervid populations.

The ban closely mirrors a similar ban issued on Sept. 21 by the state Department of Agriculture, with the support of the Game Commission. Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff used his emergency powers to issue the ban pending action by the Board of Game Commissioners to grant similar emergency powers to the agency’s executive director.

“With chronic wasting disease (CWD) present in free-ranging and captive wildlife populations in 14 states and two Canadian provinces, we must act responsibly and clearly to protect our wild and captive populations of deer and elk, as well as other cervid family members,” Ross said. “This ban applies to carcass parts from deer, elk or other cervids susceptible to CWD taken from the wild or from captive facilities in those states where CWD has been found in wild herds.

“There are many scientific unknowns about CWD, so this order may need to be altered in the future based on new discoveries, as well as new states that find CWD within their borders or other species that prove susceptible to the disease.”

Ross noted that a copy of this order will be provided to all state and provincial wildlife agencies in the United States and Canada. He noted that the order will be reviewed on an annual basis to see if adjustments are necessary to further protect Pennsylvania’s wild and captive deer and elk.

So far, members of the cervid family that have been found susceptible to CWD are white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, red deer and moose.

Hunters traveling to the following states will need to abide by the importation restrictions: Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming; as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The ban also impacts hunters traveling to Hampshire County in West Virginia, and those hunting within any specified containment zones in New York proactively identified by that state’s Department of Environment and Conservation. New York DEC officials already banned hunters from removing specific carcass parts from an area where CWD was identified early this year to prevent the possible inadvertent spread of the disease within the state’s borders.

Specific carcass parts prohibited from being imported into Pennsylvania by hunters are: head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and retropharyngeal lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord material is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord material is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft material is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord material; and brain-tanned hides.

Ross noted that the order does not limit the importation of the following animal parts originating from any cervid in the quarantined states, provinces or area: meat, without the backbone; skull plate with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord material present; cape, if no visible brain or spinal cord material is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft material is present; and taxidermy mounts.

On Oct. 4, the Board of Game Commissioners gave final approval to a measure granting certain emergency authorities to the executive director to prevent the spread of CWD, if it is discovered in or near the state or poses a serious threat to the Commonwealth’s deer and elk populations. After the regulatory change was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, the regulation, among other things, empowered the executive director to ban the importation of specific deer or elk parts.

The Game Commission, with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture, has conducted tests on 162 elk and 6,259 deer killed by hunters in Pennsylvania over the past four and three years, respectively. Since 1998, the Game Commission, in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture, has tested more than 400 deer that have died of unknown illness or were exhibiting abnormal behavior. No evidence of CWD has been found in these samples.

The Game Commission continues to monitor for and collect samples from deer and elk that appear sick or behave abnormally. Also, the agency recently collected samples from all hunter-killed elk and nearly 4,000 hunter-harvested wild deer for CWD testing.

First identified in 1967, CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that affects cervids, including all species of deer, elk and moose. It is a progressive and always fatal disease of the nervous system. Scientists theorize CWD is caused by an unknown agent capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form.

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death. There is currently no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating meat of infected animals. The Center for Disease Control has thoroughly investigated any connection between CWD and the human forms of TSEs and stated “the risk of infection with the CWD agent among hunters is extremely small, if it exists at all” and “it is extremely unlikely that CWD would be a food borne hazard.” But, they also advise that meat from CWD infected animals, or animals that appear sickly, should not be consumed.

“Hunters spend a lot of time in the woods, and are a valuable source of information to wildlife agencies across the United States,” Ross said. “If a hunter sees a deer or elk behaving abnormally, or dying from unknown causes, contact the state wildlife agency and provide as much specific information as possible about where the animal was seen.”

Members of the Pennsylvania CWD task force recently signed the state’s response plan, which outlines ways to prevent CWD from entering our borders and, if CWD is in Pennsylvania, how to detect it, contain it and work to eradicate it. The task force was comprised of representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Game Commission, the state Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state Department of Health, the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Initiated in 2003, a copy of the final plan can be viewed on the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by clicking on “Reports/Minutes” and then selecting “Pennsylvania CWD Response Plan.”

“We know that Pennsylvania hunters are just as concerned about keeping CWD out of Pennsylvania as we are, and we are confident that they will do all they can to protect the Commonwealth’s whitetail and elk populations,” Ross said.

Websites for all 50 state wildlife agencies can be accessed by going to www.wheretohunt.org, which is a website maintained by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Additional information on CWD can be found on the CWD Alliance’s website (www.cwd-info.org).

Chronic Wasting Disease Not Detected in Virginia White-tailed Deer

RICHMOND, Va., – The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) has good news concerning the results of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing in a surveillance area that included parts of western and northern Shenandoah, Frederick, Loudoun and Clark counties. More than 550 samples from white-tailed deer collected this fall were tested and CWD was not detected. Samples were tested using the relatively new rapid ELISA test at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

VDGIF immediately activated part of its CWD Response Plan when the disease was discovered in a deer in Hampshire County, West Virginia, in September 2005. The case was found approximately 10 miles from the Virginia state line. The Department established a surveillance area and with assistance from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and local hunters, staff collected samples from road-killed and hunter-killed deer throughout the surveillance area.

VDGIF Wildlife Division Director Bob Duncan said of the test results, “This is clearly good news, and we could not have achieved this without the hard work of the field biologists, and the cooperation and support of our partners. In particular, we owe a debt of gratitude to the staff of VDOT for their assistance with collecting road-killed deer, to local meat processors, and above all to the hunters who allowed us to test their deer.”

Dr. Jonathan Sleeman, wildlife veterinarian for the Department added, “While we can never say that Virginia is entirely free of the disease without testing every deer, this sample size gives us a very high confidence that if CWD is present in the surveillance area, then it is at very low levels.”

The Department will continue its CWD surveillance into 2006. VDGIF staff will meet with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to discuss results in both states and to coordinate efforts. VDGIF Deer Project Leader Matt Knox said of the coordination, “Our counterparts in West Virginia have been very helpful, and we will continue to work closely with them in the future.”

CWD is a progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer and elk, and belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The disease ultimately results in the death of the animal. Species known to be susceptible include elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer and moose.

All hunters and members of the public are asked to keep a look out for any deer showing symptoms consistent with the disease. These clinical suspects are defined as adult (18 months or older) deer or elk that have poor body condition with neurological signs such as abnormal behavior, tremors, stumbling, un-coordination, poor posture including droopy ears and a lowered head, drooling, and excessive thirst, and urination. Anyone who sees a CWD suspect deer should not attempt to contact, disturb or kill the animal. Instead, accurately document the location and immediately contact the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by calling 1- 804-367-1258. Arrangements will be made to investigate the report.

More information about CWD and the Department’s management actions can be found on the VDGIF Web site www.dgif.virginia.gov/cwd.