Refuge implements mandatory chronic wasting disease sampling of harvested elk

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Effective on Sunday, November 25, the National Elk Refuge will require a mandatory sample of all elk harvested on the refuge for the remainder of the 2018 hunt season.


November 23, 2018

Effective on Sunday, November 25, the National Elk Refuge will require a mandatory sample of all elk harvested on the refuge for the remainder of the 2018 hunt season. Refuge Manager Brian Glaspell is implementing this mandatory sampling effort due to the recent detection of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a mule deer recovered in Grand Teton National Park.

Prior to the recent CWD detection, refuge elk hunters were encouraged to participate in a voluntary CWD monitoring program by depositing the animal’s head at a collection barrel or allowing field staff to collect samples on site. Because of the refuge’s close proximity to the area where the mule deer that tested positive for CWD was recovered, the CWD sampling recommendation will be elevated to a mandatory action on the National Elk Refuge. This is a recommended action outlined in a disease response strategy developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last year.

Collection barrels for harvested elk heads are located at the Miller House, West, and McBride hunt parking areas. These locations can be found on the map in the refuge’s 2018 Elk Hunting Information and Regulations brochure. Both U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming Game & Fish Department staff will also continue to make themselves available, whenever possible, to collect samples directly from hunters in the field. Sample collections from either of these wildlife management agencies will fulfill the refuge’s new mandatory elk sampling requirements.

The refuge’s elk hunt is scheduled to run through Friday, December 14. To date, there are no confirmed instances of CWD on the National Elk Refuge.

Response to the recent CWD findings is being addressed in coordination with state, federal, local agencies, and other partners within the Greater Yellowstone area.

The National Elk Refuge will implement additional disease response strategy actions as appropriate, including: increasing surveillance during all field operations to watch for animals displaying symptoms of CWD; euthanizing suspect animals; coordinating public outreach with state, federal, and local partners; and continuing to pursue carcass disposal options with community stakeholders.