Samples from big game animals taken this past hunting season turned up something never seen in Utah before—an elk with chronic wasting disease.
The cow elk—along with five buck deer—tested positive for CWD. The six animals were taken on units in Utah where CWD has been found in past years.
CWD was not found in any new areas in Utah this past fall.
“Chronic wasting disease is most prevalent in deer, but sometimes elk and even moose get it,” says Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
The cow elk was taken last November on the LaSal Mountains in southeastern Utah. Three of the five deer were also taken on the LaSal Mountains. The two remaining deer were taken on the Central Mountains unit in central Utah.
DWR biologists collected samples from more than 1,100 deer, 37 moose and close to 370 elk this past season.
Since the fall of 2002, the DWR has collected and tested samples from nearly 15,000 mule deer. Of the nearly 15,000 samples, only 48 deer have tested positive for CWD. Thirty-nine of those 48 deer were taken on the LaSal Mountains.
CWD is fatal to deer, elk and moose. But there’s no evidence the disease can be transmitted to humans. More information about CWD is available online.