According to an article in the Oil City News new areas in our home state of Wyoming have been identified positive for CWD. Deer areas 144, 148 and elk area 41 are the new positives. CWD has been a hot button issue across the West for many years and the most recent aggressive testing is another chapter in the evolving discussion around management.
The question that is toughest to answer for big game managers and biologists is how long have the prions been here and is our testing just confirming something that has existed for eons? Or are we experiencing a boom and do we need to take strong measures to make sure that we can curtail its growth into the future?
Wyoming on one hand has taken a test and see approach for the most part while Colorado has moved their seasons for mule deer hunting to potentially harvest more mature mule deer. The desire in Colorado is to remove the carriers, i.e. the older animals from the herd and therefore cut down cases over time. This change, along with the covid world we live in pushed application numbers to very high levels in 2021 in Colorado. We could potentially see an age class reduction across Colorado with this strategy, ultimately putting the state’s mule deer royalty status in jeopardy.
Wyoming on the other hand has chosen to test and see over time with the exception of the management of feed grounds. Elk feed grounds, in particular the refuge in the Jackson Hole area have become political lightning rods from just about every walk of life. Brucellosis has been a concern for years on the feed grounds, easy predation for wolves after their reintroduction, and now CWD are driving management conversations as well as litigation.
What does all of this mean? Well it means that it would be wise for every one of us to start submitting our comments to game and fish entities letting them know how we feel about CWD and herd management. Those who seek to end hunting are certainly submitting their comments, it’s past time for us to make our voices heard.