The Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre has released the expert scientific panel report titled “Chronic Wasting Disease in Canadian Wildlife: An Expert Opinion on the Epidemiology and Risks to Wild Deer”. It is available on their web site at http://wildlife1.usask.ca/ccwhc2003/Publications/CWD%20Expert%20Report%20Final%20-%2020040804.pdf (PDF). I recommend this report to everyone; it contains some good information and outstanding recommendations.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has confirmed another positive mule deer from the La Sal Mountains in the SE part of the state. This makes a total of 7 deer from the La Sal Mountains that have tested positive. Biologists believe that the animal was killed by a mountain lion prior to being found and tested.
Two elk harvested by public hunters on public land in Utah turned out to be escapes from a nearby game ranch. The two young bulls were part of a group of three or four which escaped over a snow bridge this past winter. The animals were originally from an elk raising facility in Montrose, Colorado.
A study conducted under very controlled conditions in Colorado documented the transmission of CWD via infected carcass parts. This study was in a closed situation with a large amount of infected carcass parts present. The likelihood of wild deer or elk becoming infected with CWD by contracting sufficient quantities of infectious material from the remaining parts of carcasses transported by hunters seems remote; with the possible exception of situations where such materials may be improperly discarded in large quantity, such as by game processing and taxidermy facilities. However, it seems prudent to educate hunters on the potential and the proper methods of disposing of carcass parts (landfills, incineration, digesters).
The word from USDA-APHIS on their captive cervid movement regulations is that the comment period produced such a large amount of comments that they revamped major portions of the proposal. The revised proposal is currently at OMB for review and approval prior to being issued in the Federal Register.
At the recent 19th International Congress of Zoology in Beijing, China, several discussions were held with individuals from the Chinese Academy of Science reference wildlife disease surveillance and monitoring. Their main concern at this time is highly pathogenic avian influenza. They are also concerned that West Nile Virus may show up in Asia via migratory birds. Another interest they have is in testing native cervids in China for CWD. Work will continue with them to attempt to get provide them training in sample collection techniques.