Elk NetworkWyoming Focuses CWD Sampling Efforts in the Big Horn Basin

General | September 30, 2020

Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department needs help from hunters this fall to collect samples from mule deer and elk in target hunt areas for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing.

In the Big Horn Basin, Game and Fish aims to collect samples from at least 200 adult mule deer bucks or adult elk in the following areas:

Species                                   Herd Unit                   Hunt areas

Mule deer, adult bucks           Clarks Fork                  105, 106, 109

Mule deer, adult bucks           Shoshone River          121, 122, 123

Mule deer, adult bucks           Greybull River             124, 165

Elk, adult cow or bull              Cody Elk                     55, 56, 58-61, 66

Game and Fish is asking hunters that harvest mule deer bucks or adult elk in these specific hunt areas to submit samples to Game and Fish for testing. Hunters outside of this year’s focused surveillance areas can still submit a sample for testing.

“Our primary goal in collecting samples and monitoring CWD is to manage for healthy wildlife populations. Hunters and volunteers are very important to helping us understand the disease and achieve our goals,” said Cody area Wildlife Management Coordinator, Corey Class.

Samples collected from mule deer and elk harvested from targeted areas help Game and Fish track CWD as part of a long-term, statewide monitoring plan. CWD is widely distributed across Wyoming and is fatal to deer, elk and moose.

To help better understand prevalence (the proportion of animals positive vs. all animals tested), impacts to deer herds and possible management options, Game and Fish is monitoring prevalence of CWD over many years.  Strategically focusing on specific herd units within a given year will help Game and Fish obtain more samples, which allows changes in CWD prevalence to be detected over time.  As CWD monitoring goals are obtained within targeted herd units, new herd units are added for targeted surveillance using a scheduled rotation.

“Deer hunt areas 105, 106, 109, 121, 122, and 123 will continue as target areas because we were unable to meet the goal of 200 samples from these herd units last year,” Class said.

Hunters can have animals sampled at any game check station this season, by biologists or game wardens in the field, at the Cody regional Game and Fish office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by calling 307-527-7125 to schedule an appointment.  Hunters can also use head drop barrels located at the headquarters of Yellowtail Wildlife Management area near Lovell, the Game and Fish office in Cody or in Powell at Northwest College on the south side of Science and Math Building at 6th and Division Streets.   An additional option for hunters is to call the Northwest College CWD hotline at 307-754-6018 to schedule a time during regular business hours for a sample to be collected from a harvested deer, elk or moose.

Hunters can also learn how to take a sample with a how-to video on the Game and Fish website and can obtain sample kits from the Game and Fish office in Cody.  Hunters can also call the Game and Fish office for a list of local taxidermists or meat processors that can collect a sample from a harvested animal for CWD testing.

Find more information here.

(Photo source: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)