Elk NetworkWyoming: Hunters, We Need Your Help

General | October 6, 2022

Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Hunters in other states are recommended to check with their wildlife agency about similar efforts where they live.

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

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, Greybull River, 124, 165
  • Elk, adult cow or bull, Medicine Lodge, 41, 45
  • Elk, adult cow or bull, South Bighorns, 47, 48 and 49

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. Samples from does, white-tailed deer, elk and moose throughout the Big Horn Basin will be tested if requested by hunters.

“Our goals with collecting samples and monitoring CWD are to protect the health of wildlife. 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 to track CWD as part of a long-term, state-wide 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.

Hunters can have animals sampled at any game check station this season or by stopping by the Cody Regional Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additional options for testing include select processors and taxidermists throughout the Basin, drop barrels for heads located at the Cody Regional Office, Medicine Lodge State Park, and in Powell at Northwest College on the south side of Science and Math Building at 6th and Division Streets. Hunters can also call 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.

Hunters who submit a usable sample will be entered into a raffle for an opportunity to win quality outdoor gear. Hunters can win prizes for samples submitted from targeted (Tier 1) and non-targeted (Tier 2) areas. Targeted samples include adult male mule deer or any adult elk from targeted CWD monitoring hunt areas. Non-targeted samples include all other CWD samples regardless of what hunt area they came from.

Tier 1 prizes include:

  • Browning Western Hunter LR rifle with Recoil Hawg muzzle brake in .300 PRC and a Leupold VX-5HD 3-15×44 rifle scope, donated by RMEF, Browning, and Leupold
  • Weatherby Vanguard High Country rifle in .308, with a Maven RS.1 2.5-15×44 FFP rifle scope, donated by WY Wild Sheep Foundation, Weatherby, & Maven
  • Maven S.1S 25-50×80 spotting scope, donated by WY Wild Sheep Foundation & Maven

Tier 2 prizes include:

  • Weatherby Vanguard Weatherguard rifle in .25-06, donated by WY Wild Sheep Foundation & Weatherby
  • Maven B.1 10×42 binoculars, donated by WY Wild Sheep Foundation & Maven
  • Stone Glacier Approach 2800, XCurve Frame, medium belt backpack, donated by Muley Fanatics and Stone Glacier

Winners will be drawn in March 2023 – Good Luck!

Hunters should refer to page 5 of the 2022 Antelope, Deer and Elk Hunting Regulations for specific CWD provisions regarding transportation of harvested animals. To facilitate proper disposal of carcasses and help reduce environmental contamination with CWD, this year Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and the Mule Deer Foundation are providing dumpsters in two locations at no cost to hunters. Dumpsters will be available at South Bighorn County Landfill north of Basin and Medicine Lodge State Park near Hyattville for hunters to dispose of inedible portions of harvested deer, elk and moose.

Although this disease has not been shown to be transmissible to humans, hunters are encouraged to wear rubber or latex gloves when dressing carcasses and avoid handling the brain and spinal tissues. When butchering, meat should be boned out. Hunters should not consume animals that appear to be sick, or brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen or lymph nodes. Washing hands and instruments is good practice. Knives and other equipment can be disinfected by soaking in 40:60 bleach water for five minutes.

(Graphic credit: Wyoming Game and Fish Department)