Phoenix – Arizona Game and Fish Department officials are asking people not to attempt rescues of deer or elk – especially deer fawns and elk calves, even if they appear to be in trouble. “We are concerned that well-meaning people who believe they are rescuing such animals could potentially be spreading a deadly wildlife disease – chronic wasting disease,” says Research Chief Jim deVos.

“Please, leave those fawns and calves in the wild. If you come across a fawn that appears to be abandoned, believe me, it most likely isn’t. The mother may just be out of sight, having been scared away by you. If you see an elk or deer that appears sick or in trouble, especially near recent wildfire areas, leave them alone,” he says. Here are some basic facts about chronic wasting disease (CWD):

* This disease is not contagious to humans. * CWD is transmitted between individual animals, particularly when in close proximity to each other such as occurs in captive settings. * CWD is always fatal to animals. * There is no known treatment or preventive vaccine for CWD. * Prions, (pronounced PREE-ons) the causative agent for CWD, can be found in fawns as young as 6-months old.

Testing indicates that chronic wasting disease is not present in Arizona. However, this disease has been found in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. “Taking a cautious approach to chronic wasting disease management is necessary to minimize the potential of introducing or spreading this disease in Arizona. This is further amplified by the fact that no state or province has been able to eradicate CWD once this always-fatal disease has been detected in free-ranging wildlife,” deVos says. For more information on CWD, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department Web site at azgfd.com