OLYMPIA— As part of an ongoing effort to watch for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is asking deer and elk hunters to submit tissue from animals harvested east of the Columbia River.
CWD, a fatal illness of deer and elk, has not yet been detected in Washington, but it has occurred in at least 13 other states and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. WDFW has tested over 5,000 animals here over the last 14 years in its CWD-monitoring efforts.
Hunters have three options for submitting their harvest for CWD testing:
- Stopping at a WDFW hunter check station off Highway 395 near Deer Park or Highway 2 near Chattaroy on most weekends during deer seasons; or
- Depositing the head of the harvested animal in a marked collection bin at the laboratory building behind the Spokane Valley WDFW office, 2315 N. Discovery Place or
- Arranging to have the sample picked up anywhere in Spokane County by calling (509) 989-6224, or in the Tri-Cities area by calling (509) 531-2691.
To complete the test, lymph nodes are removed from a deer’s neck or from the brainstem at the base of an elk’s skull, explained WDFW Veterinarian Kristin Mansfield. The tissue sample requires four inches of neck tissue attached to the head.
Hunters who submit samples and complete contact information cards will be entered into a drawing for a $150 Cabela’s sporting goods store gift certificate, donated by the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, which is also providing the winner a one-year membership to the private, non-profit sportsmen’s organization.
As part of the effort to keep CWD out of Washington, state law prohibits importation of certain body parts from deer, elk or moose harvested from locations where CWD occurs. Details of those restrictions are listed on page 89 of Washington’s 2010 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/).
Although there is no scientific evidence at this time to suggest that CWD can be transmitted from deer or elk to humans, hunters should always follow basic hygienic precautions such as wearing rubber gloves while field dressing game, and thoroughly washing hands and equipment after handling harvested animals, Mansfield advised.
For more information about CWD see http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/cwd/.