Editors Blog

Video: Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease

Today’s blog post is a disturbing video clip of a deer allegedly infected with chronic wasting disease. A friend of mine sent to me this morning. The video was posted earlier this fall by a South Dakota landowner who found a near-death mule deer. The man states that he contacted state officials, who asked him to put the deer down so they could test it for disease. He states that the deer is suffering from CWD, and outward appearance indicate that he correct in that assessment.

We aren’t certain this deer had CWD, but if it did, this is one of the few videos in existence of a wild deer showing clinical signs of chronic wasting disease. The disease is so slowly spreading that deer often die quietly out of sight and out of mind. It is a stark reminder of the devastating effects this deer can have on our free-ranging deer herds in North America.

CWD is a disease of the deer family. It affects whitetails, mule deer, elk and moose and is a slowly spreading disease that has no known cause or cure. Deer spread CWD through saliva, feces and urine, but some studies have shown that the infectious prions can stay active in the environment on vegetative species and in the soil.

The disease has been found in 21 states, but Wyoming was the first to report it more than 40 years ago. Today, the mule deer population has been reduced by 50 percent in the past decade in the endemic area of Wyoming, where up to 1 in 2 mule deer are infected. Once CWD infects and animal, it will eventually kill the animal. Once the disease manifests itself in an animal, progression can take up to 24 months before the disease kills the deer.