Biologists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) have begun testing elk and deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

“For 2006, the Northeastern Region will concentrate efforts on the Uinta Mountain hunting units 8 and 9 (North Slope and South Slope respectively),” said Boyde Blackwell, regional wildlife manager. “In the past we have also tested units 10 and 11 (Book Cliffs and Nine Mile respectively). We will be taking samples from these units but we hope to collect enough samples through opportunistic sampling such as from highway mortalities. “

“Over the last few years, the DWR has sampled deer statewide and elk in some selected units,” Blackwell said. “To date no elk has tested positive and only a few deer tested positive, with most of those near Moab. We have had a few positive deer in this Region (Northeastern) including a couple from the Diamond Mountain area near Vernal and one from the Flaming Gorge area. Our testing indicates we have a very low percentage of animals with the disease.”

Sampling began with the archery seasons.

“We are asking hunters on units 8 and 9 to take their deer or elk to the Northeast Regional Office, (152 E. 100 N. in Vernal) or to the Fisheries Station in Dutch John during normal office hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday,” Blackwell said

“We were a bit low for elk samples last year but, as in the past, we exceeded our target numbers for deer the Northeast Region. We couldn’t have met those goals without the cooperation from our hunters. We really appreciate their help.”

According to the World Health Organization: “There is currently no evidence that CWD in cervidae (deer and elk) is transmitted to humans.” While there is no evidence, hunters may wish to take some simple precautions when handling their game.

  • Do not harvest or eat animals that appear sick. Please report those animals to the DWR.
  • Wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing and processing game meat.
  • Bone out the meat from the deer or elk and remove all fat, membranes and connective tissues.
  • Minimize handling of the brain, spinal cord, spleen and lymph nodes. Do not cut through the spinal cord except to remove the head.
  • Do not consume the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes.
  • Do not use household utensils to field dress or process meat. Thoroughly clean all knives, equipment and work areas with a 50/50 solution of household bleach and water.