DWR urges Utah hunters to test deer for chronic wasting disease. Here’s where to go. – St George News

A hunter using binoculars at an unspecified date and location | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St George News

ST. GEORGE – It’s become a standard part of the general deer hunt each year: 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.

Undated file photo of mule deer in winter | Photo courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St George News

Chronic wasting disease 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, according to a press release issued by the DWR. Currently, 158 mule deer and three elk have tested positive for chronic wasting disease 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 many years.

Stock image | Photo by Kelsi Camper/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St George News

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 chronic wasting disease test if they harvested a deer on one of the units being sampled this year. Hunters will need to leave about 6 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 in the news release. “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:

Southern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Panguitch, Paunsaugunt, Zion and Pine Valley units. To get your deer tested, visit one of the following locations:

  • At the Highway 20/I-15 UDOT Salt Shed from Oct. 22-23
  • In Ivins on Highway 91 from Oct. 22-23
  • At the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park at the junction of Hancock Road and Coral Pink Road 43 on Oct. 12, 15-16, 22-25, and 29-30
  • At the bottom of Cedar Canyon on Highway 14 on Oct. 8-9,12,15-16, 22-24, and 29-30
  • The DWR Cedar City office — by appointment only — at 1470 N. Airport Rd. Call 435-865-6100 to make an appointment for CWD sampling.

Hunters can 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.

Northern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Morgan-South Rich, East Canyon, Chalk Creek, Kamas and North Slope units. To get your deer tested, visit one of the following locations:

  • The Mountain Dell Reservoir exit on westbound I-80 and Highway 65 on Oct. 22-23, from roughly 10 am to dusk each day.
  • The Mountain Green Rest Area on westbound I-84 on Oct. 22-23, from roughly 10 am to dusk each day.
  • Coalville on the Chalk Creek Road, across from the Summit County Search and Rescue building, on Oct. 22-23, from roughly 10 am to dusk each day.
  • West of Kamas on Highway 248 at the Browns Canyon pull-off on Oct. 22-23, from roughly 10 am to dusk each day.
  • The DWR Ogden office — by appointment only — at 515 E. 5300 South from Oct. 24-28 and on Oct. 31, from 2–5 p.m. each day. Call 801-476-2740 to schedule an appointment.

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; and Nine Mile, Anthro units. To get your deer tested, visit one of the following locations:

  • Near Strawberry Reservoir, at the junction of US Highway 40 and the Co-op Creek Road (between mile markers 41 and 42), from Oct. 22-24, from roughly 9 am to dark each day.
  • Just north of Vernal on US Highway 191 at the Steinaker Reservoir rest stop (near mile marker 358) from Oct. 22-23, from roughly 9 am to dark each day.
  • West of Manila on State Route 43 (between mile marker 4 and 3) from Oct. 22-24, from roughly 9 am to dark each day.
  • The DWR Vernal office — by appointment only — at 318 N. Vernal Ave. from Oct. 24-28, from 8 am to 5 pm Call 453-781-9453 to schedule an appointment.

Hunters can 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 Wasatch Mountains, West unit. To get your deer tested, visit one of the following locations:

  • In Spanish Fork Canyon (near the Covered Bridge community) from Oct. 22-24, from roughly 9 am to dark each day.
  • Santaquin (exit 242 on the east side of highway) from Oct. 22-24, from 9 am until dark.
  • The DWR Salt Lake Office — by appointment only — at 1594 W. North Temple from Oct 24-28. Call 385-395-6330 to schedule an appointment.

Hunters can 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 Nine Mile, La Sal-La Sal Mountains, and San Juan-Abajo Mountains units. To get your deer tested, visit one of the following locations:

  • Nine Mile unit: The Miller’s truck stop in Wellington at the junction of State Route 6 and the Nine Mile Canyon road on Oct. 22-24, from 10 am to 6 pm
  • La Sal Mountains unit: At the La Sal Junction at the junction of US 191 and State Route 46 on Oct. 22-24, from 10 am to 6 pm
  • La Sal Mountains unit: In Castle Valley at the gravel pit about 1.5 miles east of Castleton on the La Sal Mountain Loop Road on Oct. 22-24, from 10 am to 6 pm
  • Abajo Mountains unit: At the kiosk on the Abajo Mountain Road in Monticello on Oct. 22-24, from 10 am to 6 pm
  • Abajo Mountains unit: The US Forest Service boundary on the Johnson Creek Road on Oct. 22-24, from 10 am to 6 pm
  • The DWR Price office — by appointment only — at 319 N. Carbonville Road, Suite A from 8 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. Call 435-613-3700 to make an appointment for CWD sampling.

Hunters can 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.

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