DWR wants to test deer kills for chronic wasting disease

Sep 30, 2022, 1:30 PM
chronic wasting Utah...
FILE: Utah wildlife officials are asking hunters to have their deer tested for chronic wasting disease. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — Wildlife officials want hunters who kill deer in certain areas of the state to have them tested. They want to test the deer for chronic wasting disease during October’s rifle season.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is asking people who kill a deer in the Morgan South Ridge, East Canyon, Chalk Creek, Kamas or North Slope areas to bring them to a free testing site during the opening weekend of rifle hunting on October 22 and 23.

Faith Heaton Jolly, public information officer for the Department of Wildlife Resources says they monitor for the disease even though it’s not prevalent in Utah.

Jolly said they’re keeping an eye out for the disease and its potential to spread among animals.

“We do want to make sure that we’re staying on top of it,” Jolley said. “It’s something we take seriously, we want to keep deer, elk, and moose populations healthy.”

Officials say they’ve only found 158 cases in mule deer, three cases in elk, and none in moose since 2002. Still, the disease can spread if left unchecked.

“[Animals] can spread it through urine, feces, saliva … if you’ve got a group of them eating together … and it can stay in the soil for a long time,” Heaton Jolley said.

The disease affects an animal’s nervous system, just as “mad cow disease” affects cows.

“Infected animals develop brain lesions, become emaciated, appear listless, and have droopy ears. They may also salivate excessively and eventually die,” the DWR said in a news release.

The CDC says there is an extremely low chance of humans getting chronic wasting disease. However, they caution against anyone eating the meat of an animal that tests positive.

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DWR wants to test deer kills for chronic wasting disease