Worm infests Wyoming Moose

May infect as many as 50% of Wyoming moose

In 2008 a moose was discovered in the Star Valley that suffered from both Chronic Wasting Disease and a carotid artery worm, Elaeophora schneideri. It now turns out that up to 50% of the population may have the worm but the true extent of the effects are unknown. The worm is transmitted by the bite of a horsefly which tend to do well under hot and dry conditions.

Worm infests area Moose
Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Plate buyers unknowingly paying to test private livestock so that they won’t infect public wildlife.

Another subsidy to private Ag interests at the public expense.

Idaho Elk License Plate

Idaho Elk License Plate

Other states require testing of 100% of each private elk herd but the Idaho Legislature is requiring much less from Idaho’s elk growers and slipping money away from funds intended for the enhancement of wildlife. Idaho Senate Bill 1085 would require testing of “not more than twenty percent (20%) of testable animals” leaving elk, deer, moose, and other ungulates at risk of contracting chronic wasting disease, brucellosis or other diseases.

In Montana, citizens even passed an initiative making private elk operations illegal out of the well-founded fear that these operations would transmit chronic wasting disease to wild elk and deer.

S1085

Proceeds from elk license plates pay for testing private elk herds
Rocky Barker Voices.IdahoStatesman.com.

Deer prions could jump to humans, study says

Currently Chronic Wasting Disease does not infect humans, but . . .

Chronic wasting disease is spreading more and more widely.  Our anti-conservation friends in the Department of Livestock and the various anti-wolf groups worry about brucellosis and dog tapeworms, but here is something that would be truly terrifying. Prions jumped from sheep probably to cows to cause “mad cow disease.”  Then it jumped to humans.  Scientists worry the same could happen to the prions that destroy the brains of deer, elk, and moose and remain in the soil, infectious, for so long it might as well be forever.

Deer prions could jump, study says. Scientists fear chronic wasting disease protein could spawn new human illness. By John Fauber of the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI)

Norm Bishop’s comments at Montana wolf meeting

There will be media stories, good comments, and ignorant angry comments, but here’s one from a person who knows-

Without commenting specifically on numbers or distribution of hunting quotas, I offer just these notes for your consideration.

Aldo Leopold; forester, wildlife ecologist, conservationist, father of game management in America, lived from 1887 to 1948.  In 1944, he reviewed Young and Goldman’s Wolves of North America, which chronicled the extirpation of wolves.  In his review, Leopold  asked, “Are we really better off without wolves in the wilder parts of our forests and ranges?”  He also asked, “Why, in the necessary process of extirpating wolves from the livestock ranges of Wyoming and Montana, were not some of the uninjured animals used to restock the Yellowstone?”  Thirty years later, in 1974, the planning began, and in 1995, twenty years later, wolves were restored to Yellowstone.

Leopold’s thinking about deer, wolves, and forests is epitomized by his essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain.”  In brief, he shot a wolf.  In later years he came to “suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain (and its plants) live in mortal fear of its deer.”  To deer, we could add elk.  In Yellowstone, the lack of wolves led to woody species like willow and aspen being suppressed by elk browsing.  With the return of wolves, willows are growing, once-rare birds are nesting in them, beavers are building dams from the willows, and the wolves are feeding a couple of dozen species of scavengers, including eagles and grizzly bears.

I’m far more concerned about disease than about predators on our large game.

Chronic wasting disease could wipe out our elk and deer.  Wolves test elk and deer, looking for vulnerable animals all day, 365 days a year.  You and I can’t do that.   N. Thompson Hobbs (2006) evaluated the potential for selective predation by wolves to reduce or eradicate chronic wasting disease (CWD) in populations of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park.  If it works, can we afford to throw away our only means of controlling CWD?

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Chronic wasting disease claims 1st Utah elk

Brain disease is already established in Utah deer-

Utah’s large moose population seems to be free of this spongiform encephalopathy so far.

Chronic wasting disease claims 1st Utah elk.  By Brett Prettyman. The Salt Lake Tribune

Posted in Deer, Elk, Moose, wildlife disease. Tags: , . Comments Off on Chronic wasting disease claims 1st Utah elk

New Study Finds that Mountain lions prey selectively on prion-infected mule deer

Could predation slow the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease?

A study conducted in Colorado, where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has become widespread among deer and elk, indicates that mountain lions prey selectively on infected individuals over healthy deer. I think that healthy populations of large carnivores like wolves and mountain lions could help slow the spread of this disease which has been found in a moose near Wyoming’s petri dish elk feed grounds. It has been shown that chronic wasting disease can bind to the soils and infect an area indefinitely exposing generations of cervids to this protein virus or prion.

It is possible that CWD has already infected Wyoming’s feed grounds since it may go unnoticed. Testing for CWD is usually done on brain tissue obtained from deer and elk that have been killed by hunters.

Mountain lions prey selectively on prion-infected mule deer
Biology Letters
Caroline E. Krumm, Mary M. Conner, N. Thompson Hobbs, Don O. Hunter and Michael W. Miller

Feces on elk feedgrounds could spread wasting disease. Officials call for phaseout of feeding elk herds

They read the article in Nature we posted last week!

Feces on feedgrounds could spread wasting disease. Officials call for phaseout of feeding elk herds. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

At least we heard from some groups and officials about the direct implications of the study in Nature, but what about this quote from Wyoming Game and Fish, Kreeger* continued. ‘If this is the primary way that this disease is spread, nothing comes to my mind what we could do.’ ”

And maybe we could ask Bob Wharff of SFW Wyoming about this finding. Bob, do you want to comment, and in Idaho does elk ranch lobbyist Stan Boyd have anything to say?
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*
Terry Kreeger is supervisor of the Veterinary Services Branch of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department!