The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Health Laboratory has confirmed that an adult buck mule deer from Grand Teton National Park has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The deer had been struck by a vehicle and tissue samples were collected by National Park Service personnel and submitted for testing.
Wildlife managers say that while this raises concern, the positive test result does not come as a surprise based on recent positive results for mule deer in Star Valley and Pinedale in 2017. Recent migration research has shown that some mule deer that summer in Grand Teton National Park spend winters to the east near Dubois and Cody, which have both had deer that have tested positive for CWD in recent years.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and Grand Teton National Park are concerned about CWD and how it may affect the future of Wyoming’s deer. The disease is fatal to deer, elk, and moose. State, federal and other agencies within the Jackson and Greater Yellowstone area are continuing to coordinate on efforts to address CWD.
Intensive surveillance in the park has been ongoing since 2009. This has included sampling and testing, through a partnership with Wyoming Game and Fish Department, of deer, elk and moose found dead in the park and elk harvested through the elk reduction program.
In 2017, Wyoming Game and Fish personnel tested 3,882 samples throughout the state for CWD, a significant increase from past years, and they continue to consider new recommendations for trying to manage the disease.
Wyoming Game and Fish has also conducted surveillance for CWD in elk in northwest Wyoming for more than two decades. Over the last two years Game and Fish has increased surveillance for CWD at the elk feedgrounds with additional personnel. To date, no elk that visit winter feedgrounds have tested positive for the disease. However, with the discovery of CWD in Star Valley and Pinedale, Game and Fish officials believe CWD is likely to arrive in elk at feedgrounds at some point in the future.
Although chronic wasting disease has not been shown to be transmissible to humans, Game and Fish follows the human health recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control, which states that hunters should not consume any animal that is obviously ill or tests positive for CWD.
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