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September 23, 2004
Contact: Briggs Hall, (425) 379-2318

WDFW seeks hunters' help in North Puget Sound deer disease screening

OLYMPIA - Hunters in the North Puget Sound area have an opportunity this fall to win a hunting rifle while they help the state monitor for chronic wasting disease in deer, under a joint effort by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Safari Club International (SCI).

Hunters who notify WDFW after harvesting deer in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, San Juan or Island counties, and allow the department to collect a brain-stem tissue sample from the animal, will have a chance to win a hunting rifle donated by Safari Club International.

Hunters are asked to promptly notify WDFW at (425) 379-2319 if they harvest a deer in the north Puget Sound area. A department biologist will arrange to meet the reporting hunter and collect a tissue sample for testing. All participating hunters who submit viable samples from deer 16 months or older will be entered in a drawing for a new Ruger hunting rifle in a caliber of their choice donated by the Northwest Chapter of Safari Club International.

The state has been monitoring deer and elk for chronic wasting disease since 1995 and so far all 2,287 animals checked have been found free of the disease. However, relatively few samples have been collected from deer in the North Puget Sound area.

The shortage of samples there led WDFW and the Safari Club to offer the special incentive program.

"Removal of the brain-stem tissue sample has no effect on carcass quality, but since brain tissue breaks down rapidly, hunters should contact us promptly after harvesting a deer," said Briggs Hall, WDFW wildlife veterinarian.

A fatal disease of the central nervous system in deer and elk, CWD has been found in 12 other states and two Canadian provinces.