It had been about eight years.
In 2008 wildlife managers uncovered a moose infected with the degenerative disease in an area close to Bedford, Wyoming but had not had a positive case in the Star Valley region since.
That is, until a dead doe mule deer was found in close proximity to Star Valley Ranch, about 35 miles south of Jackson, WY in February and was since confirmed to have died from chronic wasting disease. The detection of the disease in Star Valley’s hunt area 145 lies only 12 miles from an elk feedground near Alpine.
“This caught us off guard,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Deputy Chief of Wildlife Scott Edberg said Tuesday. “This one came out of the blue. We don’t really have any idea where it came from.”
The long-tenured debate regarding elk feedgrounds across Wyoming has once again be thrusted to the forefront as wildlife officials and biologists worry about the disease’s proximity to Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole.
“It’s ominous,” Sierra Club Wyoming Chapter Conservation Director Lloyd Dorsey told Jackson Hole News and Guide. “Wyoming now has chronic wasting disease literally border to border, east-west and north-south, and it’s approaching Yellowstone National Park and feedgrounds and Jackson Hole inexorably.”
In light of the recent discoveries, a new chronic wasting disease management plan was implemented this spring calling for the re-examining of any feedgrounds found within or adjacent to a recently affected hunt area.
Wildlife officials plan to examine migration routes leading in and out of the Star Valley area in an attempt to uncover how the disease ended up in the local mule deer population. In addition to this examination, Game and Fish officials are recommending successful hunters get their animals tested.