Yearly Archives: 2016

Game and Fish opens up additional round of public comments on draft of updated CWD plan

After considering public comments and feedback and updating its draft chronic wasting disease plan the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is again seeking public comments. 

Cheyenne – After considering public comments and feedback and updating its draft chronic wasting disease plan the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is again seeking public comments.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk and moose, which was first detected in wild populations in Wyoming in 1987. Game and Fish is accepting public comments until April 1, 2016. The draft proposal will be presented to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission at their April 21-22 meeting in Casper.

“In an effort to better manage ungulates we want to continue to improve our understanding of  this disease,” said Scott Edberg, Deputy Chief of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Division. “The public and partner agencies gave us some good suggestions to make sure we have a strong plan and we appreciate that feedback. We hope people will be involved as we finalize the CWD plan.”

The CWD plan focuses on disease management, research, public information and funding. The draft calls for the continuation of robust surveillance and public involvement, as well as continuing to invest in research here in Wyoming. The latest draft includes the stated goal of ultimately eradicating CWD, it has more of an emphasis on research, includes additional language about coordination with other agencies like the US Forest Service and with nongovernmental entities, recognizes the role of predators in diseased animals and adds actions to be taken if CWD is found at an elk feedground.
The public can view the draft plan on the Game and Fish website. Comments will be accepted online or by mail.

For more information on chronic wasting disease transmission and regulations on transportation and disposal of carcasses please visit the Game and Fish website at: https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Wildlife-in-Wyoming/More-Wildlife/Wildlife-Disease/Chronic-Wasting-Disease.

With help from Wisconsin’s hunters, sampling results provide current snapshot of CWD in Wisconsin

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sampled more than 3,100 deer for chronic wasting disease statewide in 2015. In all, 290 positive detections were made, primarily within the endemic area in southern Wisconsin.

For 2015 sampling and prevalence data and more information regarding chronic wasting disease search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword “CWD.”

“Once again, hunter cooperation has been outstanding. This year was our first sampling year under the new electronic deer registration system, and we used this opportunity to try new collection methods,” said Tim Marien, DNR wildlife health biologist. “Although the total number of deer tested decreased from 2014, that was not unexpected this first year. We learned from the experience and will continue to work closely with hunters to make sample submission convenient and gather more samples.”

The department has monitored trends in chronic wasting disease distribution and prevalence within Wisconsin since its discovery in 2002.

According to Marien, prevalence continues to increase within the department’s long-term monitoring area in southwest Wisconsin, and remains higher in males than females and higher in adults than yearlings.

Monitoring efforts also included ongoing surveillance within a 10-mile radius of each new CWD positive wild deer found in 2012 in Juneau, Adams, and Portage counties in central Wisconsin. Since then, eight additional positives were found in Adams and Portage counties

Surveillance was also conducted surrounding CWD-positive captive deer facilities in Marathon and Eau Claire counties, with no wild CWD deer detected.

Efforts in 2015-16 marked the fourth year of CWD surveillance in Washburn County, following the 2012 discovery of a CWD-positive adult doe near Shell Lake in northwest Wisconsin. Following recommendations from a local community action team, local landowners and hunters helped the department sample more than 2,000 deer in the area over the last four years. No new positives have been detected. Based on four years of sampling, all information has indicated the disease is not widespread in the Washburn area, and may occur at a very low prevalence rate.

“On behalf of our whole department, I want to thank hunters for their continued role in providing samples and helping us monitor this disease within Wisconsin,” said Tami Ryan, DNR wildlife health section chief.

Chronic wasting disease confirmed in deer in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK – A white-tailed deer in Ponca recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The disease is fatal to deer and elk.

The positive CWD test from a deer comes on the heels of an elk near Pruitt, about 12 miles east of Ponca, that was confirmed to have the disease Feb. 23. Both areas are in northern Newton County.

The AGFC took tissue samples from the 2½-year-old female deer, which was found dead. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the test today.

The 2½-year-old female elk was killed by a hunter Oct. 6 on the Buffalo National River near Pruitt during elk hunting season. It was the first animal in Arkansas confirmed to have CWD. The disease was confirmed on Feb. 23. The elk was tested by the same labs that confirmed CWD in the deer from Ponca.

To determine the prevalence and distribution of the disease among deer, the AGFC will begin taking samples Monday within a capsule-shaped area ranging from 5 miles west of Ponca to 5 miles east of Pruitt, and 5 miles across.

“We need to sample 300 deer to determine the prevalence and the spatial distribution of CWD in the population with 95 percent confidence,” said Dick Baxter, an assistant chief in the Wildlife Management Division.

Enough free-ranging deer have to be tested before there’s a strong statistical chance of detecting CWD in 1 percent of the herd. This is a common method to estimate CWD prevalence in deer populations. As results are analyzed, wildlife biologists will adjust the strategy.

“The test area will expand as positive (CWD) tests warrant,” said Cory Gray, AGFC deer program coordinator.

Wildlife biologists will not use the same tactics with the elk herd.

“We’re not going to determine the prevalence of CWD in elk at this point, because it would require a large sample of the relatively small elk herd to be valid statistically,” Baxter said. “We want to target sick elk throughout the elk range to find the spatial distribution.”

The elk strategy changed when the deer at Ponca tested positive.

“When we thought CWD was confined to the area where the elk was killed at Pruitt, we believed we could take the elk herd that was in close contact, maybe 30-40 animals,” Gray said.

The sampled deer and elk will be processed at a base camp staffed by AGFC and National Park Service personnel. Meat from deer that don’t test positive for CWD will be given to landowners where the deer were harvested or Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Since only unhealthy elk will be harvested, meat from those animals will not be consumed. Everything that is not packaged for consumption will be incinerated.

“Landowners have been very helpful in allowing us access to their property,” Gray said. “Much of the land within the zone where we’ll be working is privately owned. We need their help and help from anyone who sees a deer or elk that appears to be ill.”

The public can report sick deer and elk by calling 800-482-9262, 24 hours a day.

Although there are no confirmed cases of CWD transmission from cervids to humans or to livestock, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Arkansas Department of Health recommend that people not consume meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.

CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, and has been detected in 24 states and two Canadian provinces. It’s been found in the wild in 20 states and among captive cervids in 15 states. Biologists don’t know how the disease reached northern Arkansas at this point. The Arkansas elk herd began with 112 animals from Colorado and Nebraska, relocated during 1981-85.

The AGFC has taken several steps to prevent the disease from entering the state. The Commission established a moratorium on the importation of live cervids in 2002, and restricted the importation of cervid carcasses in 2005. It also set moratoriums on permits for commercial hunting resorts and breeder/dealer permits for cervid facilities in 2006, and on obtaining hand-captured white-tailed deer in 2012.

According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance (http://cwd-info.org), CWD affects only cervids (members of the cervidae family such as deer, elk and moose). Research shows that prions (abnormal cellular proteins) are transmitted through feces, urine and saliva. The shortest period between infection and symptoms of the disease is 16 months, although the infectious agent can survive for years in organic matter such as soil and plants.

CWD is a neurological disease that’s part of a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Once in a host’s body, prions transform normal cellular protein into abnormal shapes that accumulate until the cell ceases to function. As the brains of infected animals degenerate, they lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate and grind their teeth.

Two meetings have been scheduled in Ponca and Huntsville to discuss the most recent finding of CWD.

The first meeting will be held in Ponca on Thursday, March 10. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Ponca Fire Department on Arkansas Highway 43.

The second meeting will be held on Friday, March 11 at Carroll Electric, 5056 Highway 412B in Huntsville. This meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

Visit www.agfc.com/cwd for more information.

Chronic wasting disease confirmed in one Arkansas elk

An elk harvested near Pruitt on the Buffalo National River during the October 2015 hunting season tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

This is the first time an animal in Arkansas has tested positive for the disease, which is fatal to elk and whitetailed deer. To discuss the development, the Commission called a special meeting for 5:30 p.m. at the AGFC’s main office, 2 Natural Resources Drive, in Little Rock.

The AGFC created a CWD response plan in 2006, as the disease was appearing in other states.

“Several years ago, Arkansas proactively took measures to put a testing procedure in place and created an emergency CWD plan,” said Brad Carner, chief of the AGFC Wildlife Management Division. “Those precautions are now proving to be beneficial. We are in a strong position to follow the pre-established steps to ensure the state’s valuable elk and white-tailed deer herds remain healthy and strong.”

To determine how prevalent the disease may be, samples from up to 300 elk and white-tailed deer combined within a 5-mile radius of where the diseased elk was harvested will be tested. There is no reliable U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved test for CWD while the animals are alive. The AGFC will work with the National Park Service and local landowners to gather samples for testing.

A multi-county CWD management zone will be established, and public meetings in the area will be scheduled as forums to discuss plans and to answer questions.

The number of positive samples collected, if any, will help AGFC biologists determine the prevalence of CWD, and will guide their strategy to contain it.

“Although CWD is a serious threat to Arkansas’s elk and white-tailed deer, we are not the first to deal with the disease,” said AGFC Director Mike Knoedl. “Our staff is prepared and, with help from the public, will respond with effective measures. We have learned from the experiences of 23 other states.”

Biologists don’t know how the disease reached northern Arkansas at this point. The local herd began with 112 elk from Colorado and Nebraska, relocated between 1981-85.

“(CWD) would have raised its ugly head a lot sooner than now,” said Don White, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Arkansas Agriculture Experiment Station in Monticello. “I think that it’s extremely unlikely that it came from those 112 elk.”

Biologists have tested 204 Arkansas elk for CWD since 1997; the 2½-year-old female was the only one with a positive result. The AGFC also has routinely sampled thousands of white-tailed deer across the state since 1998.

Samples from the diseased female elk were tested at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison, and verified by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.

There are no confirmed cases of CWD transmission from cervids to humans or to livestock,

“As far as we know, it’s not transmissible to humans at all,” said Sue Weinstein, state public health veterinarian for the Arkansas Department of Health. “In other states where they have CWD and they are studying this, they have found no human disease at all. To be on the safe side, it is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and by the Department of Health that you not eat meat from an animal that you know is infected with chronic wasting disease.”

CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, and has been detected in 24 states and two Canadian provinces. It’s been found in the wild in 20 states and among captive cervids in 15 states.

The AGFC has taken several steps to prevent the disease from entering the state. The Commission established a moratorium on the importation of live cervids in 2002, and restricted the importation of cervid carcasses in 2005. It also set moratoriums on permits for commercial hunting resorts and breeder/dealer permits for cervid facilities in 2006, and on obtaining hand-captured white-tailed deer in 2012.

According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD affects only cervids (hoofed animals in the cervidae family such as deer, elk and moose). Biologists believe it is transmitted through feces, urine and saliva. Prions (abnormal cellular proteins) that carry CWD have an incubation period of at least 16 months, and can survive for years in organic matter such as soil and plants.

CWD affects the body’s nervous system. Once in a host’s body, prions transform normal cellular protein into an abnormal shape that accumulates until the cell ceases to function. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate and grind their teeth.

More information available at http://www.agfc.com/hunting/Pages/HuntingDeerCWD.aspx

Hartley County Mule Deer Tests Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

AUSTIN – A free-ranging mule deer buck, harvested in Hartley County, has been confirmed positive for CWD. State officials received confirmation today from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

Hartley County is located in the Texas Panhandle immediately to the south of Dalhart and borders New Mexico. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are contemplating a multi-tiered risk management response similar to the approach taken in 2012, when CWD was first discovered in Texas in a free-ranging mule deer in the Hueco Mountains along the New Mexico border.

The latest discovery marks the eighth mule deer to test positive for CWD in Texas. The other seven animals, all within the Hueco Mountains area, indicate a disease prevalence of 10–15 percent within that population.

State officials are currently compiling all the data necessary to finalize the specific management response for this new CWD positive area, and will engage stakeholders to ensure that this recent discovery and scenario helps form the dialogue and recommendations for the future.

CWD was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. The disease has been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer and elk in 23 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In Texas, CWD has also been documented in six white-tailed deer in Medina and Lavaca counties.

CWD among cervids is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. An animal may carry the disease for years without outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of responsiveness. To date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.

More information on CWD can be found on TPWD’s website, http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/diseases/cwd/ . Or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, www.cwd-info.org. More information about the TAHC CWD program may be found at http://www.tahc.texas.gov/animal_health/cwd/cwd.html.