The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking deer and elk hunters to do their part and help them keep Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) out of Arizona.
CWD affects the nervous system, and there are no treatments or vaccines for the fatal disease. Hunters are encouraged to bring in the head of their harvested animal — especially bucks and bulls — and include accurate hunter and hunt information to ensure they can track the animal if the disease should be detected.
The disease is transmitted and spread by animal movement and direct contact, which means the illegal importation of a cervid carcass or parts with brain or spinal column tissue of an infected animal could introduce the disease into Arizona.
Symptoms of CWD in deer and elk include drastic weight loss, stumbling, listlessness and other neurological symptoms.
Hunters can submit their samples to any department office statewide, but only after calling and scheduling a delivery time between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Walk-ins are not accepted.
The preferred method for delivery is to place the head in a heavy-duty plastic trash bag and keep it cool and out of the sun. Hunter information should include name and telephone number. Hunt information should include hunt number, game management unit in which the animal was harvested, and state and hunting license number.
It may take longer than a year before an infected animal develops symptoms of CWD, and can infect animals of all ages. It's most frequently noticed in older animals and can affect males more than females.
Game and Fish has been testing for the disease since 1998. It has been found in Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, but has not been found in the 1,200-plus mule and white-tailed deer and elk voluntarily submitted for testing in 2019.
All hunters are advised not to shoot, handle or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick. Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing deer or elk. All hunters are asked to contact the department at 1-(800)-352-0700 if they see or harvest an animal that appears to be sick.
For more information about CWD, visit the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website at http://cwd-info.org/. Also, check out a video that addresses 14 of the most commonly asked questions about CWD. The questions were submitted by hunters from across the nation, and the answers were provided by top CWD experts and researchers.
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