Skip to main content

Penned Elk in Utah Tested Positive for CWD

One penned elk tests positive for CWD and results in over 80 animals being slaughtered for testing.

Over 71 penned elk, 20 wild deer and two wild moose in are to be slaughtered for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing after an elk tested positive near Liberty, Utah on Rulon Jones ranch. The former Denver Broncos defensive lineman’s 5,000-acre ranch had a penned elk test positive for CWD after a hunter shot it. The elk was among nine others killed by hunters with two additional elk shot after the first elk tested positive.

Jones purchased the diseased elk from Howe Elk Ranch in San Juan County, the ranch is now under quarantine with the 60 plus elk herd scheduled to be slaughtered for CWD testing next month. An elk in the Howe herd tested positive for CWD after it died. Elk at the Howe ranch are raised for sale, not to be hunted on that ranch. There are currently no methods for live testing for CWD, which is why animals need to be killed in order to be tested. CWD is fatal and the only testing method require taking brain tissue from the animal.

Jones ranch also housed twenty wild whitetail and two wild moose, although there is debate on if they were originally fenced in or wandered onto the ranch after the fence went up. Since the positive test, Jones has imported about 18 additional elk to keep the hunts on the preserve going; these animals have tested negative for CWD. Hunts on Jones ranch for elk bring in from $5,000 and up per animal.

The first confirmed cases of CWD in wild deer and elk were in 2002. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food regulates penned elk and hunting parks, but not publicly taken animals.

Penned Elk in Utah Tested Positive for CWD