DWR Reminds Hunters To Have Deer Checked For Chronic Wasting Disease
With excitement building for the upcoming hunt (the general any legal weapon deer hunt begins October 29th), the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has a reminder and request for those who will be harvesting big game.
Hunters are again being asked to bring harvested deer to checkpoint locations throughout the state. At those checkpoints, DWR biologists will be checking the animals for chronic wasting disease.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible neurological disease that affects certain species of cervids, which are a family of hoofed mammals including deer, elk, moose, and reindeer.
CWD is caused by prions, which are abnormal proteins that can trigger other proteins in the brain to become misshapen and ultimately lead to brain damage. It is one of several diseases in this category, with others including mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.
The disease was first discovered in Utah in 2002 in a buck deer taken during the rifle hunt near Vernal. Currently, 158 mule deer and four elk have tested positive for CWD in Utah. it isn’t widespread in the state and is only found in six hunting units in Utah — primarily in a few counties in central, northeastern and southeastern Utah.
CWD is highly contagious among cervids and is primarily transmitted through direct animal-to-animal contact or indirect contact with contaminated environments, such as soil or plants. It can also be transmitted through the consumption of infected tissue, which has raised concerns for human health.
There is currently no direct evidence that CWD can infect humans, concerns exist because other prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have been shown to have the potential to cross species barriers. As a precaution, health authorities recommend against consuming meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.
Checkpoints rotate throughout the state in each hunting unit on a five year basis. This year, the checkpoint for the southern Utah unit will be at the I-15 Scipio exit on the east side of the freeway. That checkpoint will be in operation on October 21st and 22nd from 10AM to dark. Hunters can also get their deer checked at the Cedar City office of the DWR. The service at the Cedar City office is by appointment only.
More information about the checkpoint program is available on the DWR website.