It was only a matter of time before chronic wasting disease (CWD) infiltrated Yellowstone National Park. This week, park officials and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) confirmed CWD was the cause of death of an adult mule deer buck found near Yellowstone Lake in the southeastern section of the park, according to a news release.
This marks the first confirmed positive detection of CWD in Yellowstone.
The buck was originally part of a population dynamics study and wore a GPS collar that shared data with WGFD. When the collar showed that the animal had died in mid-October 2023, WGFD worked with Yellowstone staff to locate the carcass. It was found on the Promontory, which is a landmass separating the south and southeast arms of Yellowstone Lake. Samples were collected for testing and positive CWD results were confirmed based upon multiple diagnostic tests completed at WGFD’s Wildlife Health Laboratory, according to the agency.
Because this is the first case within park boundaries, officials are quickly establishing an action plan to prevent the spread. There is no way to eradicate the disease once it has been established in an area. For now, officials will increase the monitoring and testing of deer, elk and moose and collect samples from carcasses to establish how prevalent CWD is within the area.
Stay tuned to GOHUNT for further updates.