Chronic Wasting Disease Monitoring Continues In Nevada
While the Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW) believes that chronic wasting disease (CWD) does not exist in Nevada's deer and elk herds, the agency plans to continue its ongoing program to monitor herds for the disease.

Mike Cox, staff biologist, said NDOW collected brain samples from 303 mule deer and 25 elk at check stations and meat processors during the past two hunting seasons. All were examined by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory and were found to be free of the disease.

"During this year's hunting seasons we will be putting an emphasis on collecting more elk samples. We will also be focusing on collecting deer samples from central Nevada," Cox said.

As was the case during the past two hunting seasons, deer and elk hunters may be asked by biologists and game wardens for permission to remove a harvested animal's brain tissue for testing.

CWD is a progressive and fatal disease of the central nervous system of cervids, such as mule deer and elk. Its first known appearance was in the late 1960s when it was seen in captive deer and elk herds in Colorado and Wyoming.

Based upon test results, NDOW believes that CWD does not exist in free-ranging deer and elk in the state. Cox said the agency is now putting its major emphasis on monitoring information in other Western states regarding this testing and in confirmed cases of CWD.

Since the disease is often associated with the rearing of elk in captivity, NDOW is keeping in close contact with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, which has authority over elk ranching in the state. There are currently no elk ranching operations in the state and NDOW continues to take a strong stance against allowing such operations within Nevada.

The NDOW has agreed not to import elk from other states for its ongoing trapping and transport program until a CWD test history for the particular herd clearly shows the herd is free of the disease. NDOW does not capture and transplant mule deer.

While there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans or domestic stock, it is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that is related to Cruetzfeldt-Jacob (mad cow) disease in humans.

Although it is not believed that CWD exists in Nevada's deer and elk herds, NDOW suggests avoiding contact with animals that appear to be sick. A hunter who harvests an emaciated or unhealthy animal should contact a NDOW office. Observations of sickly or unhealthy deer and elk should be reported as well.

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