Utah Hunters Asked to Visit DWR Check Stations to Test Deer for Chronic Wasting Disease

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Photo courtesy of the Utah DWR

DWR News Release

It’s become a standard part of the general deer hunt: Utah hunters are once again being asked to bring their harvested deer to various stations across the state so Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists can test the animals for chronic wasting disease.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a relatively rare transmissible disease that affects the nervous systems of deer, elk and moose. The disease was first discovered in Utah in 2002 in a buck deer taken during the rifle hunt near Vernal. Currently, 124 mule deer and three elk have tested positive for CWD in Utah. However, it isn’t widespread in the state and is only found in six hunting units in Utah — primarily in a few counties in central, northeastern and southeastern Utah.

The disease is caused by a protein particle, called a prion, that attaches to the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by the same type of particle as “mad cow disease” in cows. Infected animals develop brain lesions, become emaciated, appear listless and have droopy ears. They may also salivate excessively and eventually die.

Infected animals may shed prions in their urine, feces and saliva. Transmission may occur directly through contact with an infected animal or indirectly through environmental contamination. (A dead carcass can contaminate the soil.) Prions are extremely resilient in the environment and can stay infectious for years.

While the Centers for Disease Control says the risk of transmission from animals to humans is considered extremely low, they recommend not consuming meat from animals infected with chronic wasting disease.

The DWR sets up monitoring checkpoints on all hunting units in the state — on a five-year rotation — in order to sample the deer populations for chronic wasting disease. Hunters who go to the check stations will receive a free CWD test if they harvested a deer on one of the units being sampled this year. Hunters will need to leave about six inches of the animal’s neck and windpipe attached below the jaw so that DWR employees can remove the lymph nodes for sampling.

DWR employees will also ask the hunter a few questions, including the location where the animal was harvested. The entire process will only take a few minutes.

Hunters who harvest an animal in a non-target sampling unit but still wish to have their deer or elk tested for chronic wasting disease may do so by providing the head of the animal to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Logan or Spanish Fork and paying a $25 testing fee. Deer and elk must be older than one year of age to be eligible for testing.

“We take the presence of CWD in Utah seriously and will continue to do extensive monitoring to stay on top of the disease and its prevalence in the state,” DWR State Wildlife Veterinarian Ginger Stout said. “We ask that hunters stop at our check stations if they have harvested a deer, within the sampling units, in order to help us with our monitoring of CWD in Utah.”

Here are where the CWD monitoring check stations and sampling units will be located this year:

Northern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Box Elder, Morgan-South Rich, East Canyon and Chalk Creek units at the following locations:

  • The DWR Ogden office (by appointment only) at 515 East 5300 South from Oct. 25-29 and on Nov. 1, from 2–5 p.m. each day. Call (801) 476-2740 to make an appointment outside those dates and times.

  • Snowville at the interchange of I-84 and Highway 30 on Oct. 23-24, from roughly 10 a.m. to dusk each day.

  • The Mountain Green Rest Area on westbound I-84 on Oct. 23-24, from roughly 10 a.m. to dusk each day.

Hunters can also call the DWR Ogden office at (801) 476-2740 for a list of meat processors and taxidermists in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

Northeastern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the North Slope; South Slope, Yellowstone; South Slope, Vernal; South Slope, Diamond Mt; Book Cliffs, North; and Nine Mile, Anthro units at the following locations:

  • The DWR Vernal office (by appointment only) at 318 North Vernal Ave. from Oct. 25-29, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (453) 781-9453 to schedule an appointment.

  • Near Strawberry Reservoir at the junction of U.S. Highway 40 and the Co-op Creek Road (between mile markers 41 and 42) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.

  • Just north of Vernal on U.S. Highway 191 at the Steinaker Reservoir rest stop (near mile marker 358) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.

  • West of Manila on SR 43 (between mile marker 4 and 3) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.

Hunters can also call the DWR Vernal office at (435) 781-9453 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

Central Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Central Mtns, Manti; Oquirrh-Stansbury; West Desert, Vernon; West Desert, West; and West Desert, Tintic units at the following locations:

  • The DWR Salt Lake Office at 1594 W. North Temple from Oct. 25-29, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (385) 368-1672 to make an appointment outside those dates.

  • In Spanish Fork Canyon (near the Covered Bridge community) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.

  • Santaquin (exit 242 on the east side of highway) from Oct. 23-25, from 9 a.m. until dark.

  • In Tooele, appointments are available by texting (385) 208-6211 for sample collection.

Hunters can also call the DWR Springville office at (801) 491-5678 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

Southeastern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Central Mtns, Manti unit at the following locations:

  • The DWR Price office (by appointment only) at 319 North Carbonville Road, Suite A from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday to Friday. Call (435) 613-3700 to make an appointment for CWD sampling.

  • The junction of SR-31 and SR- 264 and North Skyline Drive from Oct. 23-25, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • The parking lot south of the junction of SR-31 and South Skyline Drive from Oct. 23-25, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hunters can also call the DWR Price office at (435) 613-3700 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

Southern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Monroe; Mt Dutton; Plateau, Fishlake; Plateau, Thousand Lakes; Plateau, Boulder; and Kaiparowits units at the following locations:

  • The DWR Cedar City office (by appointment only) at 1470 North Airport Road. Call (435) 865-6100 to make an appointment for CWD sampling.

  • At the Sand Ledges (located along Highway 24 at mile marker 21 between Fishlake and Richfield — northbound only) on Oct. 23-24, from roughly 10 a.m. to dusk.

Hunters can also call the DWR Cedar City office at (435) 865-6100 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

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