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?

Read the rest of this entry »

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!

Cause of spread of “mad elk”, “mad deer” disease found

It’s in their droppings, and the infectious prions never go away!

Really, really bad news about chronic wasting disease.  Study Spells Out Spread of Brain Illness in Animals. By Sandra Blakeslee. New York Times.

“Dr. Aiken said prions tended to bind to clay in soil and to persist indefinitely. When deer graze on infected dirt, prions that are tightly bound to clay will persist for long periods in their intestinal regions. So there is no chance chronic wasting disease will be eradicated, he said. Outside the laboratory, nothing can inactivate prions bound to soil. They are also impervious to radiation.” [emphasis mine]

Update. Here is the link to the abstract in Nature

New Update: Wyoming boosts CWD survey. This season, more state and federal agents will take samples from hunters’ deer and elk. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

10th Circuit Court rules in favor of WY state elk feedgrounds on U.S. public lands

More marching ahead down the road to elk disaster-

Court rules for feedlots. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole Daily

Protein linked to wasting disease found in elk antler velvet

Consumers of “health supplement” may be at risk, study says-

Protein linked to wasting disease found in elk antler velvet.  Consumers of health supplement may be at risk, study says.  By Hanneke Brooymans. The Edmonton Journal.

Jackson Hole Daily | Elk tests, kills to start

Wyoming Game and Fish continues fourth year of elk test and slaughter program.

Jackson Hole Daily | Elk tests, kills to start

The article points out that $815,000 has been spent and that seroprevalence has declined. This reduction may or may not be associated with past test and slaughter efforts and will likely be for naught if Wyoming persists with its feeding of elk during the winter which concentrates them and makes transmission more likely.

As pointed out by Franz Camenzind, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, this does not address the likely impending chronic wasting disease outbreak.

– – – –

Robert Hoskins wrote to me saying WY Game and Fish does not use an experimental design for this program. Therefore, you can’t conclude it is working.

This is a general problem in politically based studies of policy. Experimental or semi (quasi) experimental designs are rarely used. An experimental design includes one or more groups that get “the treatment” and a similar group or groups which is the “control” group, meaning no treatment. If both groups increase or decrease by about the same amount, the treatment has had no effect. Some other (some outside) factor was responsible. Regarding this program, we have no idea. Ralph Maughan

Posted in brucellosis, Elk, politics. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Jackson Hole Daily | Elk tests, kills to start

Good news for NW Wyoming elk? Agency finds no further chronic wasting disease in Star Valley

Infected moose may have been an anomaly-

Wyoming’s ungulates herds in NW Wyoming, including Yellowstone Park may have dodged the CWD bullet for now.

Wyoming Game and Fish may still have a short time to do away with wintertime elk feeding. Of course, they won’t.

Story: Good news for elk? Agency finds no further chronic wasting disease in Star Valley. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star Tribune.

Elk meat recalled in Colo.; wasting disease found at elk farm

They say it won’t hurt you, but . . .

Elk Meat Recalled. Boise Examiner.

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How did moose get CWD? Star Valley deer, elk likely have the disease as well.

Damn!! In the Greater Yellowstone and on the Idaho border-

How did moose get CWD? Star Valley deer, elk likely have the disease as well. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Maybe Idaho should sue Wyoming for wildlife malpractice?

Chronic Wasting Disease issue heats up in Wyoming

Infected moose in SW of Jackson, plus Forest Service renewal of elk feedgrounds and doubledealing stoke the issue-

Wildlife disease debate heats up. By Chris Merrill.  Casper Star-Tribune environment reporter.

I have this feeling that the Forest Service and Wyoming Game and Fish are about as trusty as sub-prime mortgage investments.

Update. Oct. 22, 2008. Groups call for disease action. CWD found in moose in Star Valley a ‘wake-up call’ to Game and Fish, conservation groups say. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Terrible news !! Moose in Star Valley, Wyoming tests positive for chronic wasting disease

First case of “mad elk” (chronic wasting disease) in the Greater Yellowstone area-

Not surprisingly there a several Wyoming Game and Fish winter feedlots in this valley near the Idaho border for keeping elk like livestock and feeding them in the winter.

Moose in Star Valley tests positive for chronic wasting disease. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

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For more information about CWD in North America, visit the CWD Alliance Web site.

Mad elk disease heads toward Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds

We have been writing about his since 2006 on this blog. Recently, I linked to a site I named “How Now, Mad Cow“on my blogroll. RM

Mysterious, fatal disease bound for elk feedgrounds. A cousin of mad cow, chronic wasting disease is a worry for Jackson Hole’s wildlife economy. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Close Elk Feedgrounds Before It’s Too Late

Close Elk Feedgrounds Before It’s Too Late. By Brodie Farquhar. Wyomingfile.com

The True Cost of Brucellosis

Robert Hoskins has a very good guest column in New West today (Feb. 7, 2008). The True Cost of Brucellosis. I fixed the link. RM

Researchers say wolves could help curb wasting disease

This article dates from 2003, but it is relevant because it is so clear the Western public lands livestock industry is not interested in curbing wildlife diseases, only exploiting them for political gain . . . even diseases that threaten livestock.

The post above this one is on a closely related matter.

Researchers say wolves could help curb wasting disease. Billings Gazette.