THERMOPOLIS – Wyoming received some good news and bad news about chronic wasting disease this week.
Although another deer hunt area in the Big Horn Basin – hunt area 120 west of Thermopolis – has had a deer test positive for chronic wasting disease, 51 extra deer harvested following the discovery of CWD in hunt area 127 north of Thermopolis last week have tested negative.
On Oct. 25, two mature mule deer bucks harvested by nonresident hunters in hunt area 127 tested positive for CWD. In an effort to manage the spread of CWD and to understand how widespread it might be in the area, Wyoming Game and Fish Department personnel were authorized to remove approximately 50 deer within a 5-mile radius of where the positives were discovered. All the additional deer, 46 mule deer and five whitetails, tested negative for the disease Oct. 28.
The department cited the help of the landowners, Wind River Processing, the town of Thermopolis and the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Department for their help in enabling the management action to be conducted very efficiently. The deer are being donated to families in need.
On Nov. 1, a whitetail buck tested positive for CWD in area 120. “The good news is that our CWD surveillance efforts are doing exactly what they are intended to do, find CWD if it is present,” said Gary Brown, regional wildlife supervisor for the Game and Fish in Cody. “The bad news is that we had hoped we wouldn’t have to add another area to the list this year from the Big Horn Basin.”
According to Brown, the whitetail buck was harvested in the Owl Creek drainage on the Arapaho Ranch, located within the Wind River Indian Reservation. “It’s disappointing that CWD was found in hunt area 120, but given that this area lies adjacent to hunt area 127 and Owl Creek runs through both areas, it is not surprising,” he said.
CWD was also discovered in deer hunt areas 41 and 164 near Worland in 2003.
Management action at the present time involves the collection of additional samples by extending the CWD check station west of Thermopolis through Nov. 6.
Chronic wasting disease samples are also being collected at Herring’s Taxidermy in Thermopolis throughout the deer season and at Lane’s Meats in Worland Nov. 5-7.
Brown said the more samples collected, the better the department’s understanding of the distribution of CWD in the area. Hunters are encouraged to allow agency personnel to take CWD samples from deer harvested in area 120.
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that has been diagnosed in wild deer and elk in 10 states and two Canadian provinces. Animals show no apparent signs of illness throughout much of disease course. In terminal stages of CWD, animals typically are emaciated and display abnormal behavior.
There is no confirmed link between CWD and any human illness.
For more information on CWD visit the Game and Fish Web site gf.state.wy.us