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G&F Expands CWD Surveillance this Fall

LARAMIE – Checking licenses, collecting biological data and providing hunters with current information are all important tasks on the Game and Fish Department’s “to do” list during hunting season.

However, one more item will be added to the list this fall: taking samples all across the state for chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance.

G&F employees will be working at selected meat processors and check stations across the state the first five days of deer seasons. In addition to collecting the customary biological data, employees will remove lymph nodes for CWD tests.

“In the past, we used the brain stem for CWD tests, which was time consuming and often meant collecting the entire head. New tests have shown that testing lymph nodes will yield as good, if not better results, therefore we will use the new procedure this year,” said Hank Edwards, G&F wildlife disease specialist.

Using the new procedure is faster and will allow the G&F to expand surveillance efforts.

In December 1999, the World Health Organization stated, “There is currently no evidence that CWD in cervidae (deer and elk) is transmitted to humans.” They further state, “… no part or product of any animal with evidence of CWD or other TSEs should be fed to any species (human, domestic or captive)”.

Although there is not evidence CWD is transmitted to humans, G&F officials want to continue to monitor the disease and its effects on wildlife.

“Expanding surveillance will allow us to better understand the distribution of this disease,” Edwards said. “Past surveillance efforts allowed us to document CWD in new hunt areas and we hope expanded surveillance will allow us to identify the leading edge of the disease.”

When hunters arrive at check stations they will be asked if they would like to participate in the CWD surveillance program. If they do, trained employees will remove the animal’s lymph nodes. This will not affect the meat, but may affect potential to have the animal mounted.

“Hunters who wish to have their animal mounted will need to make arrangements with their taxidermist to retrieve the head after it has been caped if they choose to submit it for testing,” said Edwards.

Employees will record detailed information about where the deer was harvested, and will apply barcode stickers to the hunter’s license and corresponding samples to make sure the hunter information is matched to the correct animal.

Testing is voluntary, but as a service to those who take time to participate the G&F will post test results on their Web site. Hunters will need their barcode numbers to obtain results, and results will be posted as they become available. Completing tests will take about 12 weeks. The G&F will notify hunters by letter if their animal tests positive.

The G&F is working with other state wildlife agencies, and will contact those agencies in the home state of any non-resident hunter whose animal tests positive.

Hunters not participating in the G&F surveillance program may have their animal tested at their own expense at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie. Some veterinarians around the state have been trained to take samples and may be willing to work with hunters to obtain samples and ship them to the appropriate place.

For more information on CWD, or to find out your test results, you can contact the G&F office at (307) 777-4600, or log on to the G&F Web site at .




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