Chronic Wasting Disease

A neurodegenerative illness called chronic wasting disease is spreading among deer and elk in our region. Now, researchers at Colorado State University say they’ve found a new way to study the disease -- and another indication that it might eventually become capable of sickening people.

wgfd.wyo.gov

Starting next week, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be hosting public meetings across the state which will address chronic wasting diseases (CWD).

Chronic wasting disease is crippling deer populations in the Mountain West, around the country and in bordering Canadian provinces. It's not a bacterium or a virus or even a fungus, but caused by something called a prion, a type of protein that all mammals have in their bodies.

GREYS RIVER WILDLIFE HABITAT MANAGEMENT AREA

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Earlier this week, a conservation coalition filed a lawsuit against the National Elk Refuge in Jackson for continuing to provide supplemental feed to elk in the winter, especially since Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected in Teton County.

Senators from across the country and on both sides of the aisle have introduced a bill to tackle a problematic illness of deer, elk and moose.

It's called chronic wasting disease. Like so-called "mad cow," it’s a prion disease, meaning that it is not caused by viruses or bacteria, but instead by aberrant proteins in the nervous system.

Kamila Kudelska

On a snowy and foggy morning in Jackson Hole, Brian Glaspell, manager of the National Elk Refuge, walked toward a green trash can.

Sybille Research and Visitor Center

A U.S. district court has decided to end a long-term permit for an elk feeding ground in the Bridger Teton National Forest in northwest Wyoming, saying the agency did not do enough to analyze the risk of chronic wasting disease to animals there.

mule deer
USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is concerned about how chronic wasting disease or CWD may affect the future of the state’s deer. In reaction, Wyoming teamed up with Arizona, Colorado, Montana and Canada to create three management strategies.

Statewide Chronic Wasting Disease Distribution (All Species)
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Researchers are attempting to breed genetic resistance to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into farmed deer and elk. CWD was once rare, but is now found in herds across the U.S. including Wyoming. It’s known for causing weight loss, lethargy, and eventually death

Statewide Chronic Wasting Disease Distribution in Wyoming
Wyoming Game and Fish Department

A case of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, was found in a deer outside Meeteetse. The white-tailed buck was legally harvested by a hunter southwest of the town, and was later sampled by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Testing confirmed the buck positive for CWD.

Tom Koerner/USFWS

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has confirmed the first ever case of Chronic Wasting Disease in Star Valley.

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose. The disease has mostly been reported in southeastern Wyoming, particularly in Albany and Laramie counties, and cases of CWD are relatively rare west of the continental divide. Two other infected deer were also found near Cody this past April.

Greys River Wildlife Habitat Management Area

Chronic wasting disease spread through herds of elk and deer at a higher than usual this year. Normally, it’s found in less than five new hunting areas around the state but this year it turned up in seven new areas.

But Wyoming Game and Fish Deputy Chief of Wildlife Scott Edberg says only one of those new areas was not right next door to an area where the disease had been found in the past, and that was on the South Fork of the Shoshone River.

Penny Preston

Chronic Wasting Disease spread into seven new hunting areas around the state in 2014. The slow-spreading neurological disease affects deer, elk and moose and causes weight loss, abnormal behavior and, eventually, death. Game and Fish tested more than 1500 animals this year. 

Communications Director Renny MacKay says although the disease continues to move into almost every county in the state, the new areas were no surprise.