A big shout out and thank you to all the hunters who helped boost our CWD surveillance numbers in 2018. The results are in and have been posted on our CWD webpage. If you submitted a sample for testing, you can look up your individual results using the document number on your deer tag (e.g. D-0029999999-0).
With your help, we were able to test over 200 animals throughout the state for CWD. Fortunately, the prion was not detected in any of the samples submitted to the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory. Our job is not over though, and neither is yours. Good surveillance is the only way to continue to ensure the safety of California’s deer and elk herds. To get defensible data we need more samples from hunters like you. If you did not bring your deer or elk in for sampling this year, please consider bringing your animal in for sampling at one of our hunter check stations or CDFW Regional offices during the 2019 hunt season. The details can all be found on our webpage closer to the opening of the season.
A doe and a buck found themselves in need of some assistance in getting out of a canal in Rancho Cordova on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. Personnel from SacramentoMetropolitan Fire, Bureau of Reclamation, California Fish and Wildlife North Central Region and the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory all contributed their expertise and resources to rescue and release the deer. Both deer were safely released at Lake Natoma. Below are pictures of the rescue and release.
Sacramento Metro Fire using lasso to capture doe
Sacramento Metro Fire personnel rescuing doe from canal
California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel releasing the buck at Lake Natoma.
It’s deer season, and CDFW is looking to hunters to help collect samples for our 2018 Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance efforts. This season we are setting up CWD stations near hunt zones across the state where hunters can get their deer tested for this disease, and get their tag validated at the same time. Check out our CWD page at www.wildlife.ca.gov/CWD for a map with information about locations, dates and times of our surveillance efforts. You can also take a look at this table for the same information. We need your help to keep this devastating cervid disease out of California’s deer and elk herds. If you are planning to hunt out of state this year, make sure you are following the law, don’t bring any skull or backbone back with you! If you are hunting in a state with known CWD make sure you get your animal tested and processed in the state you harvest it, and if it tests positive give us a call (916-358-2790) we can help you dispose of it properly. Good luck.
The Wildlife Investigations Laboratory is working with biologists and wardens throughout California to ramp up Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance of deer. CWD is a fatal neurologic disease of deer and elk that has been detected in 25 states, 2 Canadian provinces, South Korea, Norway, and Finland. The disease has never been detected in California, but the best defense is a robust surveillance program, and an informed public. In 2017 effort was focused on collecting samples from hunter-harvested animals in the X-zones along California’s border. In total 100 animals were tested for CWD, and all came back negative. This year CDFW plans to expand surveillance throughout the state. Keep an eye on our CWD page for more information about CWD sampling locations during the 2018 hunt season. If you are planning to hunt out of state this year, be sure to follow the law, NO SKULL or BACKBONE. We also recommend to hunters who take a deer or elk in a CWD positive state to get your animal tested and processed in that state, and not to consume the meat until you have a negative test result.
Andrew Di Salvo, DVM, the inaugural Free-Ranging Wildlife Health Veterinary Resident with the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Laboratory and the UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, shares a photo from each month of his first year…
August 2017: Captured and processed San Joaquin kit foxes in Bakersfield, CA as part of sarcoptic mange surveillance and treatment efforts
June 2018: Assisted with black bear capture operations in Inyo National Forest near Bishop, CA as part of population and health surveillance efforts
May 2018: Attended CDFW media training event
April 2018: Captured and processed Sierra Nevada red fox in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern CA as part of population and health surveillance efforts
March 2018: Translocated Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains
February 2018: Processed helicopter-captured deer in Southern CA as part of population and health surveillance efforts
January 2018: Treated orphaned mountain lion cub burned during the Thomas wildfire in Southern CA at the WIL
December 2017: Treated two black bears burned during the Thomas wildfire in Southern CA at the WIL
November 2017: Captured and processed desert bighorn sheep near Bishop, CA as part of population and health surveillance efforts
October 2017: Captured and processed fishers in Stirling City, CA as part of reintroduction and monitoring efforts
September 2017: Assisted with Southern sea otter health evaluations and transmitter implantations at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA
An outbreak of bluetongue (BTV) and epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses (EHDV) occurred in free-ranging deer in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County this year. The outbreak started mid to late August and continued through October. Reports from concerned citizens in the Pasadena and Altadena areas adjacent to deer habitat, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory grounds, suggested that multiple deer were affected (> 20), deer were often found dead near streams or other water sources, there were few or no sick deer observed, and no other species were affected. The history was consistent with an outbreak of one of a group of hemorrhagic disease viruses that can affect deer. In collaboration with CDFW South Coast Region biologists and the Pasadena Humane Society, three deer associated with this mortality event were necropsied and samples were submitted to the California Animal Food and Health Safety (CAHFS) laboratory in San Bernardino. Testing at CAHFS confirmed that EHDV was the cause of death for two of the deer tested and BTV the cause of death for the third.
The Department’s Wildlife Investigations Lab (WIL) is interested in outbreaks of viral hemorrhagic diseases in California’s free-ranging deer populations. These viruses include deer adenovirus and two closely related Orbiviruses, BTV and EHDV. None of these viruses are known to affect people. Deer adenovirus was first described following a 1993 outbreak in California involving multiple counties with mortality estimates of over a thousand deer. Since first being described in California deer, deer adenovirus has subsequently been detected in association with deer mortalities in most of the Western states and may be the most important hemorrhagic disease virus affecting California’s deer. Bluetongue virus has long been recognized as a disease of both domestic ungulates like cattle, sheep, and goats, and of free-ranging ungulates like deer. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus is one of the most significant infectious diseases of white-tailed deer with outbreaks occurring regularly in white-tailed deer from the Northern Great Plains down to Florida, and has been associated with disease in cattle. Historically, mule deer and black-tailed deer, the deer native to California, were considered less susceptible to the Orbiviruses than white-tailed deer; however, we do see localized outbreaks of BTV and EHDV in native deer throughout California.
The Wildlife Investigations Lab would like to thank the efforts of the local citizens that reported this outbreak and the Department staff, the Pasadena Humane Society, and the California Animal Health and Food Safety labs for their efforts in determining the causes of this outbreak.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurologic disease of cervids (e.g. deer, elk, moose, reindeer). It is caused by a misfolded form of a normal protein, known as a prion. The misfolded proteins aggregate in nervous tissues causing progressive damage to the brain of infected animals. CWD belongs to a group of human and animal diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE). Examples of TSEs in animals include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, also known as “mad cow disease,” and scrapie in sheep and goats, which has been known to veterinary medicine for over 200 years. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a sporadic prion disease arising in 1:1,000,000 people, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which has been linked to the consumption of infected cattle during the “mad cow disease” outbreak in Great Britain and Europe in the 1990s, are examples of TSEs in humans.
Since 1999, California has tested 4500 deer and elk for CWD. To date, no CWD has been found. However, the potential for CWD to spread to California’s deer and elk populations still exists and surveillance for the disease remains important.
In late September 2017, Dr. Brandon Munk (CDFW) provided information on CWD and necropsy training to CDFW biologists, USDA staff and CDFW natural resource volunteers in sampling the lymph nodes of deer. These tissue samples will be submitted to a laboratory and tested for CWD.
CDFW is asking hunters in Hunt Zone X2-X7b to voluntarily participate in this sampling and disease surveillance by bringing harvested deer to one of the CWD Sampling/Hunter Check Stations. These stations will be open during opening weekend (October 7-8, 2017).
Sampling is voluntary, easy and free. Department staff or volunteers will record the tag number and take two small lymph nodes from the neck of the deer. There will be no damage to skull or antlers, only an incision across the neck to identify and sample the lymph nodes. Hunt tags can also be validated at the same time. The entire process will only take minutes.
A doe and her fawn found themselves in need of some assistance in getting out of a canal near the bridge on Hazel Avenue in Rancho Cordova on Monday, December 15. Personnel from Sacramento Metropolitan Fire, Bureau of Reclamation, Kindred Spirits Fawn Rescue, California Fish and Wildlife North Central Region and the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory all contributed their expertise to ensure the best outcome for the deer. The doe and fawn were safely captured and then released at Lake Natoma. Below are pictures of the rescue.
Doe and fawn trapped in canal.
Sacramento Metropolitan Fire rescuing doe from the canal
California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel blindfolding the doe to reduce stress to the animal and hobbling her so she won’t hurt herself or others
Dr. Ben Gonzales from California Fish and Wildlife releasing the fawn after rescue.
This spring the Wildlife Investigations Laboratory assisted with 8 large mammal captures throughout California. Wildlife capture projects are conducted to help biologists and veterinarians assess the health of these herds through biological sampling, to place GPS collars on the animals to monitor movement and help study habitat use, and for translocating animals. A total of 207 animals were captured including 132 deer, 21 pronghorn antelope, 36 elk and 18 bighorn sheep. Below is a small collection of photos from our month in the field.
Large mammal project locations. Spring 2014
Bandaging elk antlers to prevent injury
Stabilizing elk for transport to trailer for relocation to another site. San Luis Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Merced County.
Pronghorn antelope, Modoc County. Photo by Richard Shinn.
Helicopter bringing deer into base camp for health monitoring, Inyo County
Translocation and release of Sierra Nevada bighorn to augment herd in Olancha, Inyo County.
Deer release after GPS collaring and health monitoring – Scott Valley, Siskiyou County. Photo by Eric Haney
WIL Readers, get ready for some nostalgia! We are catching up to social media trends and introducing a new feature to the blog: Throwback Thursday! We would like to share a glimpse of what wildlife management was like in the days of yore through articles, images, and reports from the past.
Today we bring you an article from Outdoor California’s June 1955 issue. And yes, that’s Melvin R. Clover of collapsible Clover trap fame!
Tracking movement patterns of deer and other large mammals is still relevant to contemporary wildlife management. However, modern techniques have evolved along with modern technology. Nowadays a study animal is more likely to be ear-tagged or fastened with a radio or GPS collar for research. You’ll be hard pressed to find any bucks or does dyed for Mardi Gras festivities anymore!