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The Wyoming Game and Fish Department wants to hear from the public on its updated draft of a plan to manage and eventually eliminate chronic wasting disease.

The department is accepting public comments online or through the mail until 5 p.m. April 1. The draft will then be presented to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission April 21-22 in Casper.

Game and Fish says in a press release that the updated plan is focused on disease management, research, public information and funding.

“We want to continue to improve our understanding of this disease,” says Scott Edberg, deputy chief of the department’s Wildlife Division. “The public and partner agencies gave us some good suggestions to make sure we have a strong plan and we appreciate that feedback. We hope people will be involved as we finalize the CWD plan.”

The draft outlines a goal of eventually eliminating the disease, but says eradication is not a realistic objective at present. Under the draft plan, hunter harvest would continue to be the agency's primary tool for monitoring the disease. Game and Fish may consider small-scale culling in some circumstances in order to slow the spread of the disease.

Chronic wasting disease is a chronic fatal disease of the central nervous system found in deer, elk and moose. Wyoming Game and Fish says in the draft that no other species seem to be susceptible to the disease.

According to the draft, CWD was first noticed in captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967 and was not found in wild animals in Wyoming until 1986. Since then, the disease has become well-established in deer and elk in southeastern Wyoming and has spread to several other regions of the state.

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