A deer harvested in Deer Hunt Area 78, on the western slope of the Snowy Range, south of Saratoga and one harvested in Deer Hunt Area 82 on the western slope of the Sierra Madres tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
“The deer were harvested outside the area where CWD is known to occur,” says Bob Lanka, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Laramie Region wildlife coordinator. “This is something we were hoping wouldn’t happen, but we realized it could. Deer move, and rivers, mountain ranges and highways typically don’t act as barriers to movement.”
“The good news is, this demonstrates our surveillance efforts are working,” continued Lanka. “Hunters continue to participate in this program by providing samples for testing and information which helps the department monitor the prevalence and distribution of CWD.”
G&F laboratory personnel are quick to point out that only about 500 of the approximately 2,000 samples collected this hunting season have been tested. So the laboratory does not know how many deer submitted for testing may be infected or how far the disease may have spread.
The G&F notifies all hunters by mail who provide a useable sample and complete the required information regardless if the test results are positive or negative. Mailings are sent out as tests are completed.
The letters to hunters whose animals tested positive for the disease includes more information about CWD including the World Health Organization’s findings and recommendations.
The World Health Organization says there is no evidence that CWD in deer and elk is transmitted to humans. But they further state no part or product of any animal with evidence of CWD or other transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, the name for that group of diseases, should be fed to any species (human, domestic or captive animal.)
“The department’s goal is to provide hunters with the information they need to make an educated decision,” says Michelle Zitek, Laramie Region public information specialist. “We don’t know everything about the disease, but what we do know, we want to pass along to hunters and others who might be concerned.”
The G&F plans to keep the public informed of any other cases of CWD found outside the current endemic area, as tests are completed.