Casper Area Office Starts Looking for CWD in Mule Deer

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Chronic Wasting Disease has been detected in Wyoming, but are present nonetheless.

So Game and Fish scientists continue keeping close watch. News 13s Justin Roth brings us our exclusive story.

Game and Fish staff weathered the bitter cold temperatures for the past three days to begin the process of collecting data from Mule Deer around the Casper area.

The Casper region Mule Deer Herd is an important one to study. Game and Fish Biologists, in partnership with the BLM and local ranchers have taken measures to insure the species thrive.

Justin Binfet is the Casper Wildlife Management Coordinator he says, "After going through this mule deer initiative for a couple of years one of things we decided to do is to learn as much about this deer herd as possible."

The deer are captured by highly-experienced net gunners so staff can place GPS collars on the animals. Binfet adds, "They fly over the deer they fire a net gun, a net out of a gun. Then once they capture the deer within that net they jump out they blindfold and hobble the deer so its just kind of less stress on the animal."

From there various test are performed to certify the animal is healthy.

Mary Wood is the State Wildlife Veterinarian she says, "Blood samples to check the deer for pregnancy, were taking fecal samples to test for parasites, and were taking small biopsy from the deer to test for Chronic Wasting Disease."

Chronic Wasting Disease has a long history with this Mule Deer Herd and could endanger the wildlife population. "It is a fatal neurological disease. It's from a mutated protein called prion. That can impact any member of the deer family so in Wyoming; deer, elk, and moose" says Binfet. The increase of CWD is a big concern for Game and Fish Biologists as they study the Mule Deer Heard.

Binfet adds, "Any migration routes and corridors that these deer use. Get a really good understanding of the prevalence of Chronic Wasting Disease in these deer particularly adult female deer, and then also better understand things like their survival rates how they interact with elk and then any causes of death."

Woods job is to make sure everything is done while ensuring the deer are not harmed in the process. "Is just oversee the health of the animals so I make sure that the animals are looking good I make sure that they get any medications that they might need if there's a problem, and just make sure the animals are safe and low stress."

A GPS collar will also allow staff to track the deer and find where they go in different parts of the year. Binfet says, "Getting this picture of seasonal habitat selection on the landscape will also help us better direct future habitat improvement projects to benefit these deer down the road."

There has been no evidence to show Chronic Wasting Disease affects humans; however, it is recommended we don't eat any animal with the disease, if you are concerned, Department staff will test any game killed.

Game and Fish staff will be studying herds DNA to find out why only some deer suffer from this disease .

This is just the beginning of a three-year data collecting process to learn more about the mule deer population in the Casper area.