Wildlife Disease and Health

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department monitors and researches a variety of wildlife diseases. Improving our knowledge of diseases, including their prevalence throughout the state and their mechanisms of transmission, allows us to better understand how they may impact wildlife populations. This information is used by managers to better conserve Wyoming's wildlife.

Testing for CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a chronic, fatal disease of the central nervous system in mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and moose. CWD was first detected in Wyoming in 1985, and can now be found across the majority of the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department monitors select hunt areas for CWD each year to determine disease prevalence.



Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that primarily affects elk and bison. After infection, cows often abort their first fetus, and sometimes will also abort subsequent pregnancies. Brucellosis also infects domestic cattle. An eradication program has almost eliminated the disease in cattle, but infected elk and bison pose a continuing threat.


Bighorn Sheep Pneumonia

Respiratory disease is a leading cause of population declines in bighorn sheep in the western United States. Sporadic outbreaks of pneumonia cause large die-offs, often followed by multiple years of poor lamb survival. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been conducting statewide bighorn sheep herd health surveillance since 2011.

Report a suspected wildlife disease incident.



General wildlife disease incident report

If you have observed an incident involving wildlife that you perceive as a suspected disease incident, please fill out this form. We will follow up by phone or email to determine if the incident needs further investigation.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) incident report

If you have found sick or dead birds, please review the criteria in this form to determine if the incident should be reported. The Wildlife Health Lab relies on reports from the public to monitor HPAI and collect samples for disease testing.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2) incident report

If you have found numerous dead rabbits/hares or noticed a recent lack of rabbits/hares on your property, please complete this form. RHDV2 was first detected in Wyoming in 2020 and has since been detected in many areas of the state.


Wildlife disease distribution maps

Continually updated maps are available to understand the current distribution of certain diseases. Maps most accurately depict disease distribution, rather than intensity, as continual disease testing is not performed for all populations. Click on any of the diseases below to view its map.



Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Hemorrhagic Disease/Bluetongue

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2)


  • Bighorn sheep in a semi-natural enclosure at the Sybille Research Center
  • wildlife heath lab
  • bull elk in a semi-natural enclosure at Sybille Research Center
  • Testing for CWD

Veterinary Services

Veterinary Services is a small statewide branch of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The branch's primary goal is to provide diagnostics, information, education, and research on wildlife disease and wildlife anesthesia to the Department and the general public. The branch employs Wildlife Veterinarians and other staff who work statewide, including at the following facilities:



Access CWD test results

You can access your results online through your sportsperson's account if you submitted a sample for Chronic Wasting Disease testing. Results are typically available within three weeks.

Find carcass disposal locations

Game and Fish regulations outline requirements for transporting and disposing of animal carcasses to prevent diseases from being moved around the state.

Branch goals

Wildlife disease is becoming one of the most challenging issues that management agencies face today.  Many diseases can be shared between wildlife, domestic animals and humans.  Wildlife agencies play a critical role in disease surveillance and research which can help improve the overall health of wildlife populations as well as contribute to improved health and welfare of domestic animals and humans.

Many people are surprised that biologists and game wardens need to take a class on anesthesia.  In today’s world – we are seeing human populations expand into increasingly urban environments.  As a result, we see more contact and conflict between the urban environment and wildlife species.  Wild critters have an incredible ability to get themselves stuck in all kinds of interesting situations.  Swing sets, hammocks, christmas lights, swimming pools, and fences are all at the top of the list of wildlife obstacles.  Our biologists and game wardens receive regular training from Veterinary Services on how to safely sedate and handle wildlife species to help get them out of these situations and move them to safer locations.

Veterinary services works closely with wildlife biologists to conduct both captive and field research with a focus on improving the overall health and welfare of wildlife populations in Wyoming.  Much of our research is focused on disease management tools and applications, development of new disease diagnostic tools and development and validation of field anesthetic protocols for wildlife.


Comparing data in the lab

Education Opportunity

Rocky Mountain Wildlife Veterinary Externship

This collaborative approach to veterinary student training in the Rocky Mountain region is designed to provide students with broad exposure to the numerous wildlife veterinary professionals in the region.


Information about the 2024 externship, including how to apply, will be posted here when it becomes available.