SHERIDAN – A mule deer buck harvested from deer hunt area 23, east of Sheridan near Ucross, tested positive for chronic wasting disease, a brain disease known to affect some moose deer and elk.
“Although CWD has been found in southeastern Wyoming for a number of years, this is the first time we have found CWD in hunt area 23 in northeast Wyoming,” says Warren Mischke, Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s Sheridan Region information specialist.
Department personnel collected the lymph nodes from the hunter-harvested mule deer on Oct. 1. Personnel in the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Laboratory then analyzed the sample and discovered positive result on Oct. 10.
“Although we have tested many animals from hunt area 23, we will collect samples from more deer to learn additional information about the distribution of CWD in and around this new area,” says Lynn Jahnke, Sheridan wildlife management supervisor. “With hunting seasons still open, department officials hope to get more hunter-harvested samples from the area. In deer hunt area 23 limited quota types 6 and 7 licenses will continue through Dec. 16.”
Deer hunt area 23 will be added to the department’s list of areas known to have CWD. Consequently, the Game and Fish recommends that deer hunt area 23 hunters transport only the following items: cut and wrapped meat, boned meat, animal quarters or other pieces with no portion of the spinal column or head attached, hides without the head, cleaned skull plates (no meat or nervous system tissue attached), antlers with no meat or other tissue attached. The head, spine and other nervous tissue – areas where the abnormal protein or prion causing the disease is found in infected animals – should be left at the site of the kill or disposed of in an approved landfill.
There is still no evidence that CWD is a human health risk. After a review of available scientific data, the World Health Organization in December 1999 stated, “There is currently no evidence that CWD in cervidae (deer and elk) is transmitted to humans.” In 2004, Dr. Ermias Belay of the Center for Disease Control said, “The lack of evidence of a link between CWD transmission and unusual cases of CJD, [Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a human prion disease] despite several epidemiologic investigations, suggest that the risk, if any, of transmission of CWD to humans is low.” Nonetheless to avoid any risk, both organizations say parts or products from any animal that looks sick or tests positive for CWD or other TSEs should not be eaten.
As tests are completed the Game and Fish will keep the public informed of any other cases of CWD found in new hunt areas.