Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Wyoming releases draft proposal to stop deadly disease affecting deer, elk and moose

Wyoming officials have released a draft proposal to help stop the spread of chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease that is almost always fatal for deer, elk and moose, Scott Streater reports for Greenwire. The disease, which is related to mad cow disease, is easily spread among elk and deer populations through animal-to-animal contact and exposure to contaminated feed and water. Vaccines have so far proved ineffective for the disease, which has spread from southeastern Wyoming into the Bighorn Basin and south-central and northeastern parts of the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission is expected to approve a final plan by the end of January.

"The proposal calls for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to better coordinate management of the disease—first discovered in free-ranging deer and elk in the state in 1987—with other state, federal and tribal agencies," Streater writes. The proposal includes increased surveillance to better identify affected animals, restrictions on moving carcasses and a ban on moving animals 'to other locations for any reason within or outside of Wyoming without prior review, approval or permitting' by the Game and Fish Department."

Environmental groups are cautiously optimistic, Streater writes. Lloyd Dorsey, conservation director for the Sierra Club's Wyoming chapter, said one area for improvement "is focusing not so much on numbers of deer and elk but on achieving healthier herds." He said "this should include 'phasing out' winter feeding areas where the disease can spread, as well as acknowledging the 'positive role' of predators that can be used for 'selected predation of diseased deer and elk.'" (Read more) (This June CDC map shows the levels of chronic wasting disease among free-range deer and elk.)

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