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spectr17
05-23-2003, 02:50 PM
Deer That Died Near Moab Had Wasting Disease

By Skip Knowles, The Salt Lake Tribune

5/22/03

A mule deer doe that died in a farm field near Moab in April has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a controversial brain illness sending shivers through the hunting world.

"We're disappointed; it's not a great thing," said Alan Clark, wildlife section chief for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "There are already a lot of bad things happening to our deer right now with the drought."

Incurable, contagious and always fatal to deer, CWD is controversial because it is from a group of poorly understood but deadly spongioform pathogens that include mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.

CWD does not cause many deer and elk deaths, though, and has never proven transmissible to humans.

The owner of land 10 miles from Moab on the west slopes of the La Sal Mountains reported the deer was acting sick. It died before the state could get to it. It was taken to a lab in Provo for a necropsy.

Officials had tested hunter-killed deer aggressively in the region because deer in nearby Grand Junction, Colo., carry the disease.

It was first found in Fort Collins, Colo., in the 1960s.

Diseased deer dying in southeastern Utah have caused CWD false alarms, but all previous tests returned negative.

"We don't think it's widespread," Clark said.

Deer in the final stages of CWD suffer starvation, drooling, erratic behavior and hair loss.

The Moab deer is Utah's second to test positive; the disease was found in a buck shot near Vernal in the fall. The hunter who killed that deer had eaten some of it. Wildlife officials say the disease is not a threat to humans.

"If I shot a deer and knew it had CWD, I would not eat it; it's the same as parasites or anything else," Clark said. "But I wouldn't be afraid to go there [southeast Utah] and hunt and eat a deer without a test. There's a lot bigger risk driving from Beaver to Salt Lake in the morning," Clark said. This fall, Utah wildlife officials will initiate a CWD-test that is free and faster than past tests.

The DWR had killed deer on the winter range near Vernal for testing when CWD was found there, but will not do that near Moab because deer there roam too much.

Log on to http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/hunting/biggame/cwd or http://www.cwd-info.org to learn more about CWD.