This year hunting tips from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will include not only the typical “Be sure of your target and beyond,” but also, tips on proper disposal of deer and elk carcasses, especially in Chronic Wasting Disease Areas.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a rare disease affecting the brains of mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk. This disease belongs to a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).
Scientists are not sure how Chronic Wasting Disease is spread, says Walt Cook wildlife veterinarian for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Even though there is no credible evidence that CWD can be spread by carcasses, we are asking hunters to follow some simple recommendations when hunting in areas where CWD has been found.”
The Department is recommending the following to those hunting deer or elk in areas with CWD.
· If you process your own deer or elk, bag the head and spine, and dispose of them in an approved landfill within the endemic area.
· If you quarter your animal to pack it out, or prefer to have it processed outside the endemic area, remove the internal organs, head and spine and leave them at the site of the kill.
· If you are going to have taxidermy work done outside the endemic area, transport only cleaned items with no meat or tissue attached (hides, antlers or skull plates with antlers attached).
· If you have your meat processed within the endemic area, or taxidermy work done within the endemic area, the processor will dispose of the head and spine for you.
Some states are putting regulations in place that they believe could help prevent the spread of CWD. These states regulate which portions of deer or elk from CWD endemic areas can be brought into their state. Check with your home state to see if they have regulations on importing unprocessed game meat from CWD endemic areas.
In Wyoming CWD has been found in deer hunt areas 10, 14-16, 22, 55, 57, 59-67, 73, 88 and 158, and in elk hunt areas 5, 6 and 7. The rate at which CWD occurs varies by hunt area, from less than 1% in some hunt areas to around 20% in the CWD endemic area.
Hunters can take some simple precautions when harvesting and processing deer or elk in CWD areas. Don’t shoot any animal that appears sick. Wear rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses, minimize handling of brain and spinal tissues and wash your hands afterwards. Don’t eat the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen and lymph nodes. When butchering, meat should be boned out. Keep the meat and trimmings from each animal separate. Cleaning knives and equipment with a 50/50 solution of household chlorine bleach will destroy the agent.
“We need your help monitoring CWD,” says Bob Lanka, Laramie regional wildlife coordinator. “Hunters can help us monitor the prevalence and distribution of CWD by dropping heads of harvested deer or elk at designated wild game processors in southeast Wyoming.”
Deer and elk heads will be collected at the following meat processors. It is okay to remove capes and antlers with skull plates. BAGGS -Snake River Processing; CASPER – Weinrich’s Frozen Food lockers, Dan’s Meat Processing, Pearce Custom Butcher and Processing; CHEYENNE -Crow Creek Meat Processors, DOUGLAS -Grizzly Processing, Douglas Meat Processing; ENCAMPMENT -Encampment Meats, Merrill Meat Co.; GLENROCK -Country Style Processing; LARAMIE – Rainbow Grocery, Big Daddy Meats; LUSK -Lusk Game Processing; MEDICINE BOW -Maddox Meat Processing; ROCK RIVER -Rock River Processing; TORRINGTON -Roy’s Cold Storage; WHEATLAND -Sybille Creek Processing.
Processors names and addresses are also listed in 2002 deer and elk regulations. Hunter participation is voluntary and encouraged. When adequate and legible information is provided, hunters who participate in the departments surveillance program will be notified by mail if their animal tests positive. It will take about 12 weeks to complete tests.
Hunters who want notification of tests results sooner can have their deer or elk tested at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, 1174 Snowy Range Road, Laramie, WY 82070 (307)-742-6638 for a $25 fee.