G&F steps up CWD surveillance
Chronic Wasting Disease
by Wyoming Game & Fish
October 23, 2008
Last week, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) announced that a three-year-old cow moose they had collected in Star Valley had tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a fatal neurological disease of deer, elk, and moose that affects the brain, causing weight loss, abnormal behavior, and, eventually, death.
There is no evidence that CWD has any human-health implications.
The animal was found approximately two miles south of Bedford, Wyoming, and showed no clinical signs of CWD, which include loss of body condition, excessive drooling, and drooping ears and head. It was unable to stand up but was in very good nutritional condition.
Testing at the WGFD laboratory in Laramie determined this animal had elaeophorosis (arterial worm disease), which accounted for its inabilityto stand. Additional testing by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory confirmed that the moose also tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.
As a result of the positive moose finding, WGFD has stepped up its CWD surveillance in the area and is asking hunters for their help. Hunter check stations were set up over the weekend at Alpine, Kemmerer and Cokeville and will continue each weekend through November 16th, when most elk seasons close. The WGFD encourages all hunters to retain the head of their harvested animal if at all possible, so that the lymph nodes can be collected from the base of the bottom jaw for testing.
Hunters are also reminded that they are required by law to stop at all WGFD check stations they encounter on their way to and from hunting.
In addition, Game and Fish biologists plan to expand their number of big game head collection sites for hunters. Each year there are head collection receptacles at the entrance to Grand Teton National Park at Moran, the parking lot at Kelly Warms Springs, all hunter parking lots on the National Elk Refuge and at the Game and Fish office in Jackson.
Additional sites are planned for the South Park elk feedground, Camp Creek trailhead, the Alpine check station just east of Alpine and the Greys River elk feedground just south of Alpine on WY Highway 89.
Hunters are asked to follow the instructions at the collection site by filling out one of the wire tags provided with their name, date and location of harvest and securely attach it to any heads they leave in the receptacles.
Game and Fish personnel will also be collecting lymph nodes from big game animal heads at game meat processors in Jackson, Thayne and Afton.
Additional samples will continue to be collected through hunter field contacts and opportunistically from road-killed animals and other sick or injured animals that have to be put down.
WGFD personnel have been collecting lymph nodes from the lower jaw of elk, deer and moose throughout the Jackson and Pinedale regions for several years with no test positives until this recent moose case. The retropharyngeal lymph nodes are sampled because they are relatively easyto access and likely to show the presence of disease. This is why the WGFD stresses the importance for hunters to retain the heads of their harvested animals, if possible, so these tissues can be collected. WGFD personnel collect and analyze more than 4,000 CWD samples annually throughout the state.
"There are no methods that have been proven effective in stopping the expansion of CWD, although a number of things have been tried in other states," said WGFD Director Steve Ferrell. "Recent research in Wisconsin and Colorado has shown us that large-scale culling of animalsis ineffective in stopping the spread of the disease or reducing its prevalence. Currently, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is monitoring the disease, conducting various research projects to understand more about CWD, and educating the public on the presence of the disease and what it means for wildlife and people. The department is committed to using the tools we do have and the best available science to manage this disease in a manner that makes sense for the wildlife and people of Wyoming."
For more information about CWD in Wyoming, visit the WGFD website at:
For more information about CWD in North America, visit the CWD Alliance website at: http://www.cwd-info.org/.