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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Parasites and Diseases
Chronic Wasting Disease and Alaska - Monitoring Results

CWD has not been detected in Alaskan wildlife yet but ADF&G needs your help monitoring! Please report sick deer, elk, moose or caribou to dfg.dwc.vet@alaska.gov

Quick Facts About CWD

  • Photo of a moose The ADF&G began a testing program in September 2003 to monitor for the possible appearance of CWD in Alaskan wild deer, elk, and moose as well as other wildlife.
  • It affects elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer and moose.
  • Long term research to try to transmit CWD to wild sheep, reindeer/caribou, or cattle has been negative so far.
  • There is no scientific evidence supporting transfer of CWD between wildlife and cattle or humans. Whether or not CWD can be transmitted to other animals, how it is transmitted and the risk factors for the disease are all questions that remain to be answered.
  • Confirmation of CWD diagnosis is made by examination and analysis of brain tissue and lymph nodes from dead animals. There is no reliable live animal test.

CWD Testing in Alaska - Targeted Testing

In 2003, the Alaska Dept of Fish & Game began targeted surveillance across the entire state on Sitka black-tailed deer, elk, moose, or caribou found dead, sick with signs compatible with CWD, or were killed by vehicles. Targeted testing continues yearly. Cervids euthanized or which die at state research facilities (moose and caribou), and free-ranging caribou taken for herd health assessments have also been tested for CWD.

In fall 2010 through winter 2011, targeted testing will have a focus on moose that are hit by vehicles in the Palmer-Wasilla (GMU 14), Kenai-Soldotna (GMU 15), Homer (GMU 15), and Delta Junction (GMU 20) areas. Charities receiving moose through the road-kill programs will be given information about bringing in the head for testing at the time they are contacted about an available moose, if it is located within particular areas.

CWD Testing in Alaska - Hunter Harvest

Kodiak Archipelago - GMU 8

In Alaska, testing for CWD on hunter harvested Sitka black-tailed deer and elk began in fall 2003 on the Kodiak archipelago (GMU 8) with a voluntary surveillance program that has continued each hunting season. There are no moose in GMU 8. In the first three years (2003 - 2005), hunters donated heads from a total of 923 deer harvested throughout the archipelago and 45 Roosevelt Elk from the elk herds on Afognak and Raspberry Islands. One of these elk was harvested on the north end of Kodiak Island, which has no resident elk herds, and is believed to have swum over from one of the established herds based on reports from numerous sightings. Three deer, hit by cars, have also also tested. During 2006, an additional 192 deer and 10 elk from hunters' harvests were tested. Results were negative for CWD for all.

In fall 2007, 178 deer and 12 elk from hunters' harvests were sampled. Also, 7 deer and 1 elk hit by cars or found dead were tested. Results are negative for CWD for all animals.

During the August 2008 - January 2009 sport subsistence hunting seasons, CWD testing on hunters' harvests of deer and elk, was continued with funding and support from the two Safari Club International chapters located in Alaska - the Alaska Kenai Peninsula chapter and the Alaska chapter. 13 elk and 96 Sitka black-tailed deer were sampled for testing, and results are negative.

No testing was done on hunted animals in 2009 and is not planned for the fall 2010 hunting season.

Southeast Alaska - GMUs 1–5

In 2005, surveillance testing of hunter harvested deer and elk was expanded to Southeast Alaska (GMU's 1-5). In this first year, primary collection efforts were based from Ketchikan and Douglas, with secondary collection points at Sitka and Petersburg. A total of 236 Sitka black-tailed deer were sampled from all five game management units of Southeast Alaska. The majority of deer brought in by hunters for testing came from the area of Prince of Wales Island (GMU 2)(61 deer) and Admiralty - Baranof - Chichagof Islands (GMU 4)(120 deer). Six elk harvested on Zarembo, Etolin, and Bushy Islands (GMU 3) from the mixed Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk herds were also tested. All results are negative for CWD.

In 2006, the main collection points in Southeast Alaska for deer from hunters' harvests were Prince of Wales Island (GMU 2) and Sitka (GMU 4). These are the two highest harvesting GMU's for deer in SE. A total of 312 deer were collected and sampled for testing. The amounts by area are: 184 deer from GMU 2 (area of Prince of Wales Island), 118 from GMU 4 (Admiralty-Baranof-Chichagof Islands), 8 from GMU 1A (Ketchikan), and 2 from GMU 3 (Petersburg). Elk were also targeted, but no elk were brought in for sampling. Only one elk was harvested in the entire hunting season. 2006 results are negative for CWD for all animals tested.

In fall 2007, 3 elk from GMU 3 (Petersburg-Wrangell) were tested and found negative for CWD. No testing was done on hunted animals in 2008 or 2009 and is not planned for the fall 2010 hunting season.

CWD Testing Results

All results received from the lab have been negative to date. No CWD has been detected in the samples from the animals tested. "Pending results" are unknown, and will be posted when the test results are received.

Hunter Harvests
Results of August 2010 – July 2011
  Game Management Units (GMU's)
  20
Moose  
# Tested 3
Negative for CWD 3
Hunter Harvests
Results of August 2011 – March 2012
  Game Management Units (GMU's)
No species tested from hunter harvest  
Results of August 2010 – March 2011
Targeted Testing
  Game Management Units (GMU's)
  6 14 15 20 26
Caribou          
# Collected       1 10
# Tested       1 10
   
SBT Deer          
# Collected 1        
# Tested 1        
   
Moose          
# Collected   87 42 3  
# Tested   87 42 3  
Negative for CWD 1 55** 29** 2** 10
** Additional results pending.
Results of August 2011 – March 2012
Targeted Testing
  Game Management Units (GMU's)
  14 15 20
Moose      
# Collected 227 103 2
# Tested 217 101 2
Negative for CWD 102** 45** 2
** Additional results pending.
Maps showing number of free-ranging species tested by GMU
Year Months Tested
2003 Sept 2003 – Aug 2004
2004 Sept 2004 – Jul 2005
2005 Aug 2005 – Jun 2006
2006 July 2006 – July 2007
2007 Aug 2007 – July 2008
2008 Aug 2008 – July 2009
2009 Aug 2009 – July 2010
2010 Aug 2010 – July 2011
2011 Aug 2011 – July 2012
9 year map Sept 2003 – Sept 2012
Alaska statewide totals of free-ranging species tested for CWD by year
Testing Period SBT Deer Elk Moose Caribou
2001 – 03 0 0 24 0
9/03 – 7/04 131 8 32 13
8/04 – 7/05 400 16 22 7
8/05 – 7/06 639 27 17 15
8/06 – 7/07 510 10 13 10
8/07 – 7/08 188 15 4 10
8/08 – 7/09 97 13 29 0
8/09 – 7/10 0 0 65 21
8/10 – 7/11 1 0 133 11
8/11 – 7/12 0 0 320 0
Total Tested* 1966 89 659 87
*Targeted and Hunter harvested surveillance numbers combined

For More Information Contact

dfg.dwc.vet@alaska.gov
Or visit the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance web site.

(Updated April 2, 2012)

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