Four Elk Test Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease This Year
June 13, 2006
Tom Farrell, 605-745-4600
Four elk tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) over the winter at Wind Cave National Park. Thirteen elk and eight deer were tested for the fatal disease with the results just now becoming available. Animals tested came from road-killed animals and targeted surveillance for elk demonstrating clinical signs of the disease.
“Our on-going surveillance program to identify and remove suspect animals from our herds is helping us learn more about this disease in the park,” said Park Biologist Dan Roddy. “We are incorporating information gained from this active surveillance program into the development of our elk management plan that will address population numbers and movement patterns both inside and outside park boundaries.”
Since 1998, 123 deer and 34 elk in Wind Cave National Park have been tested for CWD. Of those animals, eight deer and eight elk have tested positive for this disease that is similar to mad cow disease and thought to be caused by a “prion” or abnormal protein particle. How the disease is transmitted is unknown, although at this time there is no evidence CWD can be transmitted to humans.
Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.