Arizona Game and Fish continues to monitor for chronic wasting disease Deer and elk hunters’ participation requested

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October 7th, 2009

Arizona Game and Fish continues to monitor for chronic wasting disease
Deer and elk hunters’ participation requested

PHOENIX — Arizona deer and elk hunters: The Arizona Game and Fish Department is requesting your assistance to monitor for the wildlife disease called chronic wasting disease (CWD). CWD is fatal to deer and elk, however, there is no evidence that it poses a risk to humans.

CWD has not yet been found in Arizona through regular annual testing since 1998. However, it is present in the neighboring states of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

“Thanks to the participation by hunters and taxidermists last season, we were able to nearly double our surveillance and collection of samples in areas of concern near neighboring states that have detected CWD,” said Clint Luedtke, wildlife disease biologist. “Continued assistance from elk and deer hunters in Game Management Unit 12B (which borders Utah) as well as GMUs 1 and 27 (which border New Mexico), are crucial in assuring CWD is not in Arizona in these potential corridors.”

For Kaibab and strip hunters, the Jacob Lake check station will open for collecting samples from Oct. 30 – Nov. 30 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the following exceptions: On Nov. 9 and 30, the station will close early at noon, and on Nov. 10-12 the station is closed.

In addition, from Nov. 6-8, department biologists will be working in the field in Unit 27. They will be seeking successful hunters to provide samples for the CWD monitoring effort.

However, all hunters can assist the monitoring effort by bringing in the head of their recently harvested deer or elk to any Game and Fish Department office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Place the head in a heavy plastic garbage bag for delivery, and keep it cool and out of the sun. If the weather is warm, it is best to either bring in the head within a day of harvest or keep it on ice in a cooler before delivery.

To better assist the surveillance efforts, people will be asked to fill out a form with their drop-off. Please include the following information: county, game management unit in which the animal was harvested, hunt and permit number, and a contact address and phone number. If this information is not provided, the department will be unable to test the head.

Test results will be sent by postcard within six to eight weeks. There is no charge for the testing and notification.

Here are some guidelines for hunters when out in the field:

  • Don’t harvest any animal that appears to be sick or behaves oddly. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 1-800-352-0700 if you see an animal that is very thin, has a rough coat, drooping ears and is unafraid of humans.
  • When field-dressing game, wear rubber gloves and minimize the use of a bone saw to cut through the brain or spinal cord (backbone). Bone out the meat. Minimize contact with and do not consume brain or spinal cord tissues, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.
  • If you hunt in another state, don’t bring back the brain, intact skull or spinal column. It’s OK to bring back hides and skull plates that have been cleaned of all tissue and washed in bleach. Taxidermied heads, sawed-off antlers and ivory teeth are also OK to bring home.
  • If you intend to hunt out of state, contact the wildlife agency in the area you intend to hunt. Several states have regulations on carcass movement.

The non-hunting public can also help prevent the potential spread of CWD. If you come across any deer fawn or elk calf in the wild, it should be left alone. Don’t assume it has been abandoned by the parent; in all likelihood, it hasn’t. Bing a “good Samaritan” and bringing these wild animals into captivity poses a risk to the state’s wildlife resources.

CWD is a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to cervids, which include deer, elk and moose. Clinical symptoms include loss of body weight or emaciation, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, stumbling, trembling, and behavioral changes such as listlessness, lowering of the head, and repetitive walking in set patterns.

No evidence has been found to indicate that CWD affects humans, according to both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

The department also has had rules in place since 2002 restricting the movement of captive deer and elk into or within the state, and subjecting those animals to marking and reporting requirements.

For more information about chronic wasting disease, visit www.azgfd.gov/cwd or www.cwd-info.org.

One Response to “Arizona Game and Fish continues to monitor for chronic wasting disease Deer and elk hunters’ participation requested”

  1. Thanks to your sustained efforts, diseases to humans through wildlife is at its minimal. Thanks a ton.

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