The newest Wyoming mule deer to test positive for chronic wasting disease was found near Lander.
On February 15, 2016 the Wyoming Game and Fish Department collected a dead mule deer buck that tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) southeast of Lander.
This Wyoming mule deer was located in unit 92 which borders historically notorious units of 171 and 160.
CWD is a neurological disease first recorded in captive deer populations. Though unclear, the cause of CWD is believed to be caused by abnormal prions. These prions are located in the brain. When they cannot perform their duties, they die as a result. As brain cells begin to die the animal loses more and more function, and eventually perishes.
How deer transmit the disease is also in question. Scientists believe it may be transmitted through excrements such as saliva, urine, and feces. Browsing deer may then become exposed and ingest the deadly prions. After infection the disease will typically kill the animal within seven months. In some cases deer may last for over a year.
Humans are not advised to eat deer, elk, or moose believed to harbor the disease. Animals infected with CWD exhibit a range of symptoms. These include emaciated body condition, lethargy, extreme change in behavior, salivation, and eventually death.
Currently Wyoming Game and Parks personnel test more than 1,600 deer annually for CWD. Anyone who thinks they have seen a deer infected with CWD in Wyoming is encouraged to notify the Wyoming Game and Parks commission.
The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance is a website that offers an abundance of information regarding CWD. Anyone planning a hunt in the west or northeast should be aware of the prevalence of CWD in the state they want to hunt.
CWD is still a fairly rare occurrence. This Wyoming mule deer is simply the latest casualty in an ongoing battle with chronic wasting disease in the west.