A deer killed by police department sharpshooters under a city program to cull the local deer population turned out to be infected with chronic wasting disease.
“One came back positive,” said Alan Osterlund, Cody regional wildlife supervisor for Game and Fish.
Determined to reduce the size of the deer herd within city limits, Cody officials obtained a special permit from Game and Fish to harvest 50 deer in January and February.
The action was taken under the parameters of a deer management plan adopted last fall by the city council in conjunction with the police department.
The last time a dead mule deer from the Cody herd was discovered with CWD was in April 2015, Osterland said.
“Around here, it is not really a surprise, but I was kind of disappointed,” he said.
Many deer have tested positive for CWD throughout the Big Horn Basin, but there have been fewer such results attributed to the Cody in-town deer herd the city has been seeking to reduce.
Whenever a deer is killed in the area Game and Fish personnel try to sample it to determine if CWD has affected the animal, Osterland said.
CWD affects the brain and central nervous system of members of the deer family and has been detected in such populations in at least 23 U.S. states and in parts of Canada.
Amongst wildlife experts there has long been concern about the spread
of the disease and its possible infiltration to other animals.
Routinely, wildlife officials warn hunters about eating the meat from a kill if the animal does test positive for CWD.7
There has never been a documented case of CWD being transmitted to humans, however the Center for Disease Control has recommended against people eating the meat from an infected animal.
“It’s really unknown what the potential impact is,” Osterland said. “But they have never made that link.”
As recently as 2015, the World Health Organization reiterated that point.
(Lew Freedman can be reached at email@example.com.)