CHEYENNE – Deer and elk hunters across Wyoming and the region gave the Wyoming Game and Fish Department high marks for its work to address chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to a survey sponsored by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
The mail survey, conducted by the College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, surveyed 4,100 resident and nonresident Wyoming hunters from July through October 2004.
Game and Fish Deputy Director Gregg Arthur says the praise reflects the work the department has done to research the disease, slow its spread, and provide hunters with accurate and timely information on the disease.
“A majority of our resident and nonresident hunters gave the Game and Fish a B or better grade on our handling of CWD,” says Arthur. “We’re proud that our hunters trust this agency to make good management decisions related to CWD and the health of our deer and elk populations.”
Hunters also rated the department highly on the believability, accuracy and timeliness of information it has distributed about CWD
The survey, conducted in cooperation with seven other state fish and wildlife agencies, was designed to evaluate hunters’ perceptions of the risks of CWD, a neurological disease affecting the brains of deer and elk. Hunters were also surveyed on their future participation in hunting should the CWD situation in the state worsen.
While a third of Wyoming hunters surveyed said they have been more careful to ensure an animal did not show signs of CWD before it was harvested, less than 5 percent of deer and 4 percent of elk hunters have hunted less because of CWD concerns.
When asked about perceived risks during a hunt, hunters were more concerned with being in a car accident on the way to or from a hunt than they were about becoming ill or dying from CWD. But they were more concerned about health dangers from CWD than they were about getting lost or suffering a heart attack.
CWD has been studied by the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and numerous state public health agencies. None have found a link between it and any disease affecting humans.
Wyoming has implemented new carcass transport and disposal regulations to reduce the chance of spreading CWD to other parts of the state. Currently, the known CWD distribution in deer and elk in Wyoming is concentrated in the eastern half of the state. The Game and Fish will continue to monitor CWD this fall by testing suspect deer and elk and testing at check stations.
Information on proper carcass disposal, CWD disposal and testing information will be mailed to hunters in early September.