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AZGFD: Arizona Deer Still Free Of Chronic Wasting Disease

Elk
Ron Nichols/U.S. Department of Agriculture
Elk.

A disease fatal to deer and elk has struck herds in some western states. But chronic wasting disease hasn’t yet arrived in Arizona, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The department tested about 1,000 tissue samples from deer and elk harvested in the fall hunting season. The tests showed no trace of chronic wasting disease.

Anne Justice-Allen is the department’s wildlife veterinarian. She said the disease affects the animal’s brain and leads to abnormal behavior and death.

“We consider this a serious threat to our deer and elk populations, and we’re being very diligent about testing for this disease,” she said.   

Justice-Allen said diseased animals could move into Arizona from New Mexico and Utah, although barriers like mountains and rivers have so far prevented this.

She’s also concerned hunters could introduce the disease from another state. That’s why they’re required to process deer and elk meat before bringing it into Arizona.

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Melissa Sevigny is a reporter at KNAU in Flagstaff.