MONTESANO –The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will offer a free training session in Belfair for volunteers prepared to help collect information on deer taken during the modern firearms hunting season that begins statewide in mid-October.
The training session is scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 7-9 p.m at the KBH Archers Clubhouse, 3680 Old Belfair Highway, Belfair.
Participants in the training session will be deployed to check stations in western Washington to help WDFW biologists identify the sex and age of the deer brought in by hunters. Like last year, they will also be trained to help take small tissue samples from harvested animals to test for chronic wasting disease, said Jack Smith, regional WDFW wildlife manager.
Although chronic wasting disease has not been detected in Washington, Oregon or Idaho, Smith said WDFW has stepped up monitoring for the disease that has been discovered in wild or captive deer and elk herds in 10 other states and two Canadian provinces.
"Tissue samples taken during the hunting season play an important role in the department's efforts to monitor for chronic wasting disease," Smith said. "Last, year, with the help of volunteers, we were able to gather more than twice as many samples as we could have taken otherwise. This year we hope to take even more samples."
While there is no documented evidence of humans contracting chronic wasting disease through contact with infected animals, Smith said volunteers and WDFW staff members will be expected to wear goggles and latex gloves any time they are working with deer at the check stations.
"It only makes sense to take every precaution," Smith said.
During the training session, WDFW Veterinarian Briggs Hall will outline procedures for taking tissue samples as well as for collecting age and sex data on harvested deer. These harvest data provide WDFW with information used to help manage the state's deer population, Smith said.
For more information about the check station training session, contact Jack Smith at (360) 249-1222. For more information about chronic wasting disease, see WDFW's website.