CWD Detected in Elk Near Pinedale

CWD Detected in Elk Near Pinedale

File photo.

PINEDALE – Chronic wasting disease was recently confirmed in a new hunt area near Pinedale according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

The disease was found in a cow elk in Elk Hunt Area 92, which has a small border with Elk Hunt Area 98, where the disease was detected in 2021. 

According to the department, the disease is a chronic and fatal illness that impacts the central nervous system of white-tail deer, mule deer, moose and elk and is the result of abnormally folded protein known as prions. Animals in the early stages of the disease appear normal and don’t display signs of illness. As the disease progresses, infected animals show progressive weight loss, increased drinking, excessive salivation, lethargy and eventual death. Research into the disease suggests it can be transmitted through saliva, urine, feces or infected carcasses, as well as through feed and pastures contaminated with disease prions. 

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The announcements are made when the disease is found in a new hunting area as the Centers for Disease Control recommends hunters not consume meat from animals that are obviously ill or test positive for chronic wasting disease. Because of the slow progression of the disease, a majority of infected animals that are harvested look normal and healthy. 

Regina Dickson, the public information specialist at the department’s Green River office, said the announcements are done out of caution. She said there hasn’t been an incident involving a human being infected with the disease, but studies focused on macaques consuming infected meats showed the macaques becoming infected with chronic wasting disease.

Since its 1985 discovery in southeastern Wyoming, the disease has spread westward and has been detected in Sweetwater County. The disease was detected in a deer near Rock Springs that was euthanized by game and fish personnel in April, though Dickson said other Sweetwater County cases predate it. The deer was part of the Sublette mule deer herd, which had its first reported infection in 2017.

“We’ve had a few cases already,” Dickson said.

She said the disease isn’t prevalent within the county, with less than half a dozen total infections having been detected. 

Additional information about the disease can be found here, while a map detailing which hunt areas have had infections reported within them can be found here.