Hunters asked to help with CWD sampling this fall

JACKSON, Wyo. — Hunters are being asked to do their part in helping stem the spread of CWD and learning more about what ungulate herds it is affecting and where.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking all hunters to collect lymph node samples from deer and elk for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing in focused monitoring hunt areas across Wyoming. Hunters can play a critical role in helping Game and Fish understand the disease and achieve CWD monitoring goals.

“We are asking hunters in [certain] hunt areas to please submit a lymph node sample from their harvested deer or elk for testing,” said Hank Edwards, wildlife health laboratory supervisor. “The samples hunters submit are critical to monitoring CWD within Wyoming’s deer and elk populations.”

Game and Fish is targeting deer hunt areas 7-15, 19, 21, 29-34, 61, 74-77, 88, 89, 96, 97, 105, 106, 109, 121-124, 132, 133, 157, 163, 165, 168, 169 and 171.

Elk focus hunt areas include 55, 56, 58-61, 66, 75, 77, 79, 84, 85, 88-91, 97, 98 and 102-105.

Hunters outside of this year’s focused surveillance areas can still submit a sample for testing. Hunters can learn how to take a sample by watching a how-to video on the Game and Fish website, and can also have animals sampled at any game check station this season or by stopping at the Game and Fish Headquarters or regional offices from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Hunters can learn how to take a sample by watching a how-to video on the Game and Fish website. Photo: WGFD

Results from CWD testing are available online within three weeks. Hunters can expedite results within 10 working days for a $30 fee; contact the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab in Laramie at (307) 766-9925 for more information.

Continued monitoring of CWD over time is important to help Game and Fish understand the potential impacts of the disease as well as evaluate future management actions for deer and elk.

“If you’re hunting in one of Game and Fish’s targeted deer or elk hunt areas, please make all efforts to submit a sample,” Scott Edberg, deputy chief of wildlife. “It makes an incredible difference for the future management of deer and elk.”

Game and Fish has a rotational sampling program designed to monitor CWD throughout the state by targeting specific hunt areas. The method provides the long-term data collection needed for CWD while not overwhelming the Wildlife Health Laboratory with testing.

Hunters also need to be aware of Wyoming carcass transport and disposal rules to prevent the spread of CWD within Wyoming and other states. Wyoming’s regulations require deer, elk and moose hunters transport only the following items within Wyoming:

  • Deer, elk and moose can be transported to a camp, private residence for processing, a taxidermist, a processor or a CWD sample collection site in Wyoming provided the head and all portions of the spinal column remain at the site of kill or such parts are disposed in any approved landfill or approved incinerator in Wyoming. A listing of landfills that will accept waste from processed game animals and whole carcasses is available on the Game and Fish website.
  • Cut and wrapped meat
  • Edible portions with no portion of the spinal column or head attached
  • Cleaned hide without the head attached
  • Skull, skull plate or antlers that have been cleaned of all meat and brain tissue
  • Teeth
  • Finished taxidermy mounts

Whole deer, elk, and moose carcasses cannot be transported out of Wyoming. The only parts approved to leave the state are edible portions with no part of the spinal column or head; cleaned hide without the head; skull, skull plate, or antlers that have been cleaned of all meat and brain tissue; teeth; or finished taxidermy mounts. All hunters need to check with their home states for the rules about importing deer, elk, or moose from Wyoming.

Since 1997, the Wyoming Game and Fish has been monitoring the distribution and prevalence of CWD to better understand how this disease may affect the health of Wyoming’s deer and elk populations. Initial surveillance goals focused on the detection of CWD in new areas of the state along with monitoring the disease. This disease has now been identified in most deer hunt areas across Wyoming and necessitates a shift in focus of the program from detection to monitoring.

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