Hunters can still help monitor for chronic wasting disease

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December 4th, 2008

Hunters are reminded they can help the Arizona Game and Fish Department monitor for chronic wasting disease this season by bringing in the head of their recently harvested deer or elk for sampling.

You can assist by bringing in the head of your 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, you will be asked to fill out a form with your drop-off. Please include the following information: county, game management unit in which the animal was harvested, hunt and permit number, and an address and phone number where you can be reached. If this information is not provided, the department will be unable to test the head.

You will be notified of the test results by postcard within six to eight weeks. There is no charge for the testing and notification.

In particular, all successful hunters in Game Management Units that border the states of Colorado, Utah and New Mexico are strongly encouraged to participate in the voluntary CWD sampling program, since deer from this area of the state have the greatest potential for initial detection. CWD has not yet been found in Arizona, but has been in those states.

CWD is a wildlife disease that is fatal to deer and elk. Currently, there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans.

The department has been conducting surveillance using hunter-harvested deer and elk since 1998. Test samples from more than 10,000 animals during that time (close of 2007-08 season) have found no evidence of CWD. Aggressive monitoring is essential to detect the disease early if it does arrive in Arizona.

The department recommends these guidelines for hunters 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 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.

Archery-only Harvest Reporting:
Nonpermit-tag (over-the-counter) archery-only deer hunters are reminded that harvest reporting is mandatory, please call (866) 903-3337 to report your deer harvest.

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