/ Modified jan 20, 2017 4:49 p.m.

Arizona Still Untouched by Disease Deadly to Deer

Chronic Wasting Disease has affected herds in other Western states.

private_life_deer_stags_spot Two whitetail bucks venturing out during the rut.

FLAGSTAFF - A disease fatal to deer and elk has struck herds in some Western states, but hasn’t arrived in Arizona yet, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Chronic Wasting Disease affects the animal’s brain and leads to abnormal behavior and death, said Anne Justice-Allen, the department’s wildlife veterinarian.

The Arizona Game and Fish tested about 1,000 tissue samples from deer and elk harvested in the fall hunting season. The tests showed no trace of Chronic Wasting Disease.

private_life_deer_fawn_spot Key Deer Fawn.

“We consider this a serious threat to our deer and elk populations, and we’re being very diligent about testing for this disease,” said Justice-Allen.

Diseased animals could move into Arizona from New Mexico and Utah, although barriers like mountains and rivers have so far prevented this, Justice-Allen said.

She also expressed concerned that hunters could introduce the disease from another state. That’s why they’re required to process deer and elk meat before bringing it into Arizona.

Arizona Science Desk
This story is from the Arizona Science Desk, a collaborative of the state's public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Arizona Science Desk.
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