Hunting in these areas? Utah DWR wants to test your deer for disease

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FILE – Two bucks in the back of a pickup truck in Utah. (Utah DWR)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – If you harvest a deer in Utah this year, wildlife officials want you to have it tested for chronic wasting disease or CWD. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has multiple stations throughout the state where biologists can test the animals for CWD.

CWD is a relatively rare, transmissible disease affecting the nervous systems of not only deer but elk and moose. It was first detected in Utah in 2002 in a buck taken during the rifle hunt near Vernal, the DWR says. So far, 124 mule deer and three elk have tested positive for CWD in Utah. Despite this, DWR says CWD isn’t widespread and is only found in six hunting units – primarily in a few counties in central, northeastern, and southeastern Utah.

The disease is caused by a protein particle – a prion – that attaches to the brain and spinal cord. This is the same type of particle that causes mad cow disease in cattle. Infected animals then develop brain lesions, become emaciated, appear listless, and have droopy ears. They may also salivate excessively and eventually die.

According to DWR, infected animals can shed prions in their urine, feces, and saliva. Animals can become infected through contact with another infected animal or indirectly through environmental contamination. While the transmission of CWD from animals to humans is considered extremely low by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is recommended you do not eat meat from infected animals.

On a five-year rotation, the Utah DWR sets up monitoring checkpoints on all hunting units statewide to sample the deer populations for CWD. Hunters can have a free CWD test if they harvest a deer on one of the units being sampled this year. You will need to leave about six inches of the animal’s neck and windpipe attached below the jaw to allow DWR employees to remove the lymph nodes for sampling. When you bring your deer in, a DWR employee will ask you a few questions like where the animal was harvested.

If you bag a deer or elk in a non-target sampling unit but still want it tested for CWD, you can provide the head of the animal to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Logan or Spanish Fork for a $25 testing fee. Deer and elk must be older than 1-year-old to be eligible.

Here are where you can find CWD monitoring check stations and sampling units this year, courtesy of DWR:

Northern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Box Elder, Morgan-South Rich, East Canyon and Chalk Creek units at the following locations:  

  • The DWR Ogden office (by appointment only) at 515 E. 5300 South from Oct. 25-29 and on Nov. 1, from 2–5 p.m. each day. Call 801-476-2740 to make an appointment outside those dates and times.
  • Snowville at the interchange of I-84 and Highway 30 on Oct. 23-24, from roughly 10 a.m. to dusk each day.
  • The Mountain Green Rest Area on westbound I-84 on Oct. 23-24, from roughly 10 a.m. to dusk each day.

Hunters can also call the DWR Ogden office at 801-476-2740 for a list of meat processors and taxidermists in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

Northeastern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the North Slope; South Slope, Yellowstone; South Slope, Vernal; South Slope, Diamond Mt; Book Cliffs, North; and Nine Mile, Anthro units at the following locations:

  • The DWR Vernal office (by appointment only) at 318 N. Vernal Ave. from Oct. 25-29, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 453-781-9453 to schedule an appointment. 
  • Near Strawberry Reservoir, at the junction of U.S. Highway 40 and the Co-op Creek Road (between mile markers 41 and 42) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.
  • Just north of Vernal on U.S. Highway 191 at the Steinaker Reservoir rest stop (near mile marker 358) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.
  • West of Manila on SR 43 (between mile marker 4 and 3) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.

Hunters can also call the DWR Vernal office at 435-781-9453 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work. 

Central Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Central Mtns, Manti; Oquirrh-Stansbury; West Desert, Vernon; West Desert, West; and West Desert, Tintic units at the following locations: 

  • The DWR Salt Lake Office at 1594 W. North Temple from Oct. 25-29, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 385-368-1672 to make an appointment outside those dates.
  • In Spanish Fork Canyon (near the Covered Bridge community) from Oct. 23-25, from roughly 9 a.m. to dark each day.
  • Santaquin (exit 242 on the east side of highway) from Oct. 23-25, from 9 a.m. until dark.
  • In Tooele: Appointments are available by texting 385-208-6211 for sample collection.

Hunters can also call the DWR Springville office at 801-491-5678 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

Southeastern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Central Mtns, Manti unit at the following locations: 

  • The DWR Price office (by appointment only) at 319 N. Carbonville Road, Suite A from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday to Friday. Call 435-613-3700 to make an appointment for CWD sampling.
  • The junction of SR-31 and SR- 264 and North Skyline Drive from Oct. 23-25, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • The parking lot south of the junction of SR-31 and South Skyline Drive from Oct. 23-25, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Hunters can also call the DWR Price office at 435-613-3700 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

Southern Utah

The DWR will provide free CWD tests for deer harvested from the Monroe; Mt Dutton; Plateau, Fishlake; Plateau, Thousand Lakes; Plateau, Boulder; and Kaiparowits units at the following locations: 

  • The DWR Cedar City office (by appointment only) at 1470 N. Airport Road. Call 435-865-6100 to make an appointment for CWD sampling.
  • At the Sand Ledges (located along Highway 24 at mile marker 21 between Fishlake and Richfield — northbound only) on Oct. 23-24, from roughly 10 a.m. to dusk. 

Hunters can also call the DWR Cedar City office at 435-865-6100 for a list of taxidermists and meat processors in the area that will also take CWD samples, along with processing the meat or doing taxidermy work.

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