Arizona GFD Requests Help From Hunters In Monitoring CWD

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The Arizona Game and Fish Department is again asking for hunter assistance this season in monitoring for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a wildlife disease that is fatal to deer and elk. Currently, there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk for humans.

The disease has not yet been found in Arizona, but it is in three neighboring states—Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The department needs 1,800 deer and elk heads this hunting season to test for presence of the disease.

Hunters can assist by bringing in the head of their recently harvested deer or elk to any Game and Fish Department office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Place the head in a heavy plastic garbage bag for delivery, and keep it cool and out of the sun. If the weather is warm, it is best to either bring in the head within a day of harvest or keep it on ice in a cooler before delivery.

To better assist the surveillance efforts, you will be asked to fill out a form with your drop-off. Please include the following information: county, game management unit in which the animal was harvested, hunt and permit number, and a contact address and phone number. If this information is not provided, the department will be unable to test the sample.

Test results will be sent by postcard within six to eight weeks. There is no charge for the testing and notification.

The department has been conducting surveillance using hunter-harvested deer and elk since 1998. Test samples from more than 8,300 animals during that time have found no evidence of CWD.

The department also has had rules in place since 2002 restricting the movement of captive deer and elk into or within the state, and subjecting those animals to marking and reporting requirements.

Here are some guidelines for hunters when out in the field:

  • * Don't harvest any animal that appears to be sick or behaves oddly. Call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 1-800-352-0700 if you see an animal that is very thin, has a rough coat, drooping ears and is unafraid of humans.
  • * When field-dressing game, wear rubber gloves and minimize the use of a bone saw to cut through the brain or spinal cord (backbone). Bone out the meat. Minimize contact with and do not consume brain or spinal cord tissues, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes.
  • * Always wash hands thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.
  • * If you hunt in another state, don't bring back the brain, intact skull or spinal column. It's OK to bring back hides and skull plates that have been cleaned of all tissue and washed in bleach.
  • * Taxidermied heads, sawed-off antlers and ivory teeth are OK to bring home.
  • * If you intend to hunt out of state, contact the wildlife agency in the area you intend to hunt. Several states have regulations on carcass movement.