Help Prevent the Spread of CWD

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Planning to hunt deer or elk out of state this year?

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking hunters who harvest meat from deer and elk in other states to take precautions to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) into Arizona.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease affecting deer and elk. Surveillance in Arizona shows that-so far-CWD is not present in our deer or elk populations. The Game and Fish Department has implemented steps to reduce the potential for this disease so that it does not establish here. CWD is already present in the neighboring states of Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

"Very little is known about how the infectious agent of CWD is transmitted from one animal to another. Nonetheless, we are concerned that CWD might be inadvertently brought into our state through the transport of some infected animal tissues," says department researcher Jim deVos.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission implemented a ban in 2002 on the import of live cervids - hoofed mammals such as deer and elk. There are also some practical suggestions that may help prevent the spread of CWD. Precautions hunters should take before bringing any harvested animal back into Arizona include:

* Bone out the meat and package it (either commercially or privately); do not cut into the spinal cord or remove the head; do not quarter the carcass with any of the spinal column or head attached.

* Do not bring the brain, intact skull or spinal cord back into Arizona.

* If you wish to take the antlers attached to the skull plate, thoroughly scrape and clean tissue from the skull plate using a knife or brush and bleach. Clean all utensils afterward with bleach.

* Animal skins or capes (without skull) do not need any further treatment.

* Sawn-off antlers - with or without velvet - do not need further treatment.

* Upper canine teeth of elk (ivories) do not need further treatment.

In addition, hunters may want to have the deer or elk tested for CWD if such a service is available in the state where the animal is harvested. There may be a fee for such an examination. Contact that state's wildlife authorities for information.

DeVos says there is no evidence that humans or animals other than deer and elk can get CWD. The Game and Fish Department is asking hunters to take the above precautions to help protect Arizona's deer and elk herds.

Those hunting deer and elk in Arizona can also help in detecting animals that may become infected with this neurological disease. If you see deer or elk that are in poor condition, losing hair, have drooping ears, stumbling gait or a slow reaction to your presence, please contact the department at 1 (800) 352-0700. You can get more information on CWD on the Arizona Game and Fish Department at on the Internet.