Game & Fish Discovers CWD-Positive Mule Deer in Pinedale, Discourages Feeding of Wildlife

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PINEDALE — A buck mule deer recently tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a residential area near Pinedale and was likely associated with the local town deer population. This is the second confirmed case of CWD in mule deer within deer hunt area 139, as a doe mule deer found dead near the airport in February 2017 also tested positive.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds residents to avoid feeding wildlife. While feeding deer and other wildlife during winter might seem like a good idea, feeding can cause serious problems for these animals.

Increases spread of diseases and parasites. Feeding wildlife can artificially congregate groups of deer and other species at feeding sites, creating conditions ripe for the spread of diseases and parasites. For example, once CWD is in the wildlife population, feeding can act to increase concentrations of prions, the infectious agent, in the environment. Prions remain in the soil for decades, forming disease “hot spots” which put deer, elk or moose returning to those locations at risk. Once infected, animals do not recover.

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Promotes starvation and can bring about numerous conflict situations. Big game animals, such as deer and moose will readily eat hay or other feeds when offered, but the micro-organisms in their stomachs that aid in digestion are specialized to breakdown vegetation the animal would naturally consume during winter months, primarily woody plants. This means it takes a lot longer to digest other foods and is why these animals can often starve to death despite having a stomach full of hay, birdseed, fruit, grain or pellets. Feeding wildlife can also lead to a higher risk of damage to private property, vehicle collisions, presence of predators and dangerous human-wildlife encounters.

Wyoming residents who feed wildlife during winter certainly have good intentions, but it is important to remember the unintended consequences and resist the urge to try to “help” wildlife by feeding them.

Game and Fish asks the public to report any deer, elk or moose that appear to be sick or not acting in a normal manner by contacting your local game warden, wildlife biologist or Game and Fish office immediately. Please visit the Game and Fish website for more information on chronic wasting disease transmission and regulations on the transportation and disposal of carcasses. To report an animal that may be sick, contact the Pinedale Wyoming Game and Fish Department office at 1-800-452-9107 or 307-367-4353.

~WGFD~