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7 elk test positive for CWD in eastern Bighorn Mountains

7 elk test positive for CWD in eastern Bighorn Mountains

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Seven out of 206 hunter-killed elk tested positive for chronic wasting disease in the Bighorn Mountains.

Seven out of 206 hunter-killed elk in Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains tested positive for chronic wasting disease, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The samples collected for testing came from elk killed between the 2018 to 2020 seasons. The elk that tested positive came from hunt areas 35 and 37 — west and southwest of Sheridan along the eastern side of the Bighorn Mountains.

The two areas overlap with deer hunt areas where CWD has been documented in mule deer and white-tailed deer. Distribution of sampling was not uniform between elk hunt areas, with Hunt Area 37 accounting for 52% of the sampling effort and only five samples collected from Hunt Area 39.

WGFD said a minimum sample size of 200 animals produces a reliable estimate of prevalence, which in this case is 3.4% of elk in the region.

“We plan to prioritize this herd for sampling again in 2027,” said Sheridan Region wildlife biologist Tim Thomas, in a press release. “At that time we will implement protocols to improve equitable sampling across all hunt areas.”

The North Bighorns Elk herd is spread across elk hunt areas 35 through 40. The region had been scheduled for priority CWD sampling in 2021. 

No CWD management actions have been implemented for these elk. 


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