SALT LAKE CITY – Chronic wasting disease does not appear to be spreading in Utah, wildlife officials said Wednesday.

The state Division of Wildlife Resources tested 3,067 samples from deer and elk taken during last fall’s hunting seasons. Seven mule deer tested positive for the disease. All of those deer came from the La Sal Mountains in southeastern Utah, which is one of three areas where the disease has been found in Utah.

The seven hunters who took the deer were contacted by the DWR and made aware of the findings.

Besides the La Sal Mountains, the disease previously has been found in deer in the Vernal area.

A total of 438 deer and 226 elk samples were collected from that area this fall with no positive results.

The Fountain Green area in central Utah is the third area where a CWD-positive deer has been found. The DWR tested 607 deer samples from the area last year and did not find CWD in any of the samples.

“It doesn’t appear that the disease is spreading to new areas in Utah, and it isn’t spreading much even in the areas where we’ve found it in the past,” said Leslie McFarlane, a wildlife disease specialist with the department. “We’re happy with what we found in 2004, but there’s still more work to do.”

McFarlane said the DWR started sampling deer in southwestern and western Utah in 2004. Those are the only areas in the state where CWD sampling had not been done in the past.

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