Regional Offices > Jackson Region > Jackson Region News > G&F Continues its CWD Sampling Effort

G&F Continues its CWD Sampling Effort

January 23, 2019
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Another solid effort for CWD samples collected in the Jackson Region.

Jackson - Wyoming Game and Fish Department Jackson Region Wildlife Disease Specialist Ben Wise and CWD Technician Aaron Moorhead have just completed another season of collecting lymph nodes from hunter-killed elk, deer and moose to test for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease). Jackson Hole is elk country and this has been born out in the number of samples that are collected from this species each year. This year, Ben and Aaron collected lymph nodes from a total of 606 elk, mostly from the Jackson Elk Herd.

An elk head receptacle placed at one of the parking lots on the National Elk Refuge.

The bulk of the samples are collected from hunters while field-dressing or retrieving their animals or from elk heads dropped in the bins provided at the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park. A fair number are also collected from heads left at Matt's Meats, Jackson's only meat processor. It is much harder to get samples from mule deer and moose, because far fewer of these animals are harvested in the Jackson area and it is simply more difficult to contact these hunters. Even still, a total of 46 mule deer and nine moose were sampled this fall.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been sampling and testing for the presence of CWD in Jackson Hole for over two decades with no positives. However, the spread of the disease west, from its epicenter in southeast Wyoming, has been well-documented with mule deer testing positive in neighboring Sublette and Lincoln counties in 2017. Not surprisingly, this fall, Teton County's first positive CWD sample was confirmed from a road-killed mule deer sampled by National Park Service personnel in Grand Teton National Park near the town of Kelly.

Jackson wildlife managers expect to see more CWD positive animals in the future. The Game and Fish Department is also planning for the first positive elk associated with an elk feedground. Given the complexity of such an issue, local Game and Fish managers are planning to engage the public on how best to deal with CWD on elk feedgrounds. Currently, the Department is working to establish a statewide CWD working group designed to assist and provide recommendations to the Game and Fish Department on moving forward in the face of CWD. Once the statewide working group is up and running, there is plan to create a similar group(s) to assist Game and Fish managers locally with regard to CWD and elk feedground management. 

- WGFD -

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