ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona wildlife officials ask hunters to bring in heads of deer, elk to check for disease

Nov 21, 2023, 4:15 AM

Arizona wildlife officials are asking hunters to bring in the heads of harvested deer and elk to be...

Arizona wildlife officials are asking hunters to bring in the heads of harvested deer and elk to be checked for signs of chronic wasting disease. (Arizona Game and Fish Department Photos)

(Arizona Game and Fish Department Photos)

PHOENIX – Arizona wildlife officials are asking hunters to bring in the heads of harvested deer and elk to be checked for signs of a potentially devastating disease.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is hoping to sample 1,500 animals for chronic wasting disease this season.

Harvested heads can be submitted to any state Game and Fish office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Hunters are asked to call in advance before coming in with an animal’s head.

The heads should be kept cold in a heavy duty plastic trash bag until they are submitted. Hunters should be prepared to provide accurate contact and hunt information, too.

Game and Fish also has instructions on its website on how hunter can collect their own samples, which can be brought to a departmental office.

Why do Arizona wildlife officials worry about chronic wasting disease?

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal affliction that affects the nervous system of deer and elk. It has been detected in Utah, New Mexico and Colorado, but no cases have been documented in Arizona since testing began in 1998.

The disease is spread by direct contact. It can take over a year for symptoms — including drastic weight loss, stumbling and lack of awareness to surroundings — to develop.

There are no known treatments or vaccines.

To prevent the potential spread of chronic wasting disease, the transportation of carcasses or parts with brain or spinal column tissue across county or state lines is prohibited. Hunters are also asked to avoid shooting or handling animals that appear to be sick.

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Arizona wildlife officials ask hunters to bring in heads of deer, elk to check for disease