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BIGHORN MOUNTAINS — In cooperation with the Wyoming State Veterinarian’s office, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will conduct brucellosis surveillance in the Bighorn Mountains by collecting blood samples from hunter harvested elk this fall. WGFD officials are asking successful elk hunters to assist in this effort by collecting blood samples from elk immediately after harvest.
“This is an opportunity for hunters to take an active role in helping us learn more about the potential of brucellosis infection in elk in the Bighorn Mountains,” said Tim Woolley, wildlife management coordinator with the WGFD in Cody.
Woolley added that the information gathered may also be used to keep livestock producers informed regarding the potential presence and distribution of the disease.
After two elk harvested in the Bighorns tested seropositive for brucellosis in 2012, surveillance efforts were substantially increased in the Bighorn Mountains, Woolley said. Sampling in 2013 documented two additional seropositive cow elk from Hunt Area 40.
“Animals that test seropostive to brucellosis do not necessarily carry the disease; they could have just been exposed to the bacteria at some time in their life,” Woolley said.
Brucellosis surveillance efforts across the state rely on hunters voluntarily collecting blood samples from harvested elk. Last year the WGFD received 793 blood samples from elk harvested across the Bighorn Mountains. Woolley said 67 percent of those were useable samples, which was an increase in usable samples from 2012.
To collect a useable blood sample, WGFD officials said hunters should:
• carry a sample kit with you in the field; collect the blood sample as soon as possible.
• collect blood from the neck, heart or chest cavity.
• not freeze the blood sample, but it should be kept cool.
• fill out the data section on the instruction sheet, providing specific information regarding the location and major drainage of the harvest.
• follow the packing and shipping recommendations and use the postage-free mailer and drop it in the nearest post office box, or drop by the Cody or Sheridan Regional Offices.
• ship the sample as soon as possible (in one to two days) to prevent spoilage.
WGFD employees will mail blood sample kits to elk hunters holding limited quota licenses for hunt areas in the Bighorn Mountains.
If hunters do not receive one or are hunting in a general area, kits are available at game warden stations in the region and the Sheridan or Cody Game and Fish Regional Offices.