The National Elk Refuge near Jackson, Wyo., is now requiring all elk harvested on the refuge to be tested for chronic wasting disease.
Refuge manager Brian Glaspell is implementing the mandatory sampling effort in response to the recent detection of chronic wasting disease in a road-killed mule deer recovered in Grand Teton National Park.
Prior to the recent CWD detection in the park, refuge elk hunters were asked to participate in a voluntary CWD monitoring program by depositing the animal’s head at a collection barrel or allowing field staff to collect samples on site, according to a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service news release.
“Because of the refuge’s close proximity to the area where the mule deer that tested positive for CWD was recovered, the CWD sampling recommendation will be elevated to a mandatory action on the National Elk Refuge,” the news release said.
The elk refuge borders Grand Teton National Park on its southeast side.
The mandatory sampling rule will remain in effect for the remainder of the 2018 hunting season.
Collection barrels for harvested elk heads are located at three hunt parking areas. Staff for the Fish and Wildlife Service and Wyoming Game and Fish will also be available when possible to collect samples directly from hunters in the field. These samples will fulfill the mandatory sampling requirement.
The elk refuge plans additional measures to combat the problem, “including increasing surveillance during all field operations to watch for animals displaying symptoms of CWD, euthanizing suspect animals, coordinating public outreach with state, federal, and local partners, and continuing to pursue carcass disposal options with community stakeholders,” the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said.
The 2018 elk hunt season on the refuge runs through Dec. 14. Hunting is used by the refuge to manage the population numbers of bison and elk.