WILDLIFE

Rare black deer dies of chronic wasting disease in Moab

Jan 27, 2020, 11:03 AM | Updated: 11:07 am
deer with chronic wasting disease...
FILE: Moab's melanistic deer, which died of chronic wasting disease, had a rare condition that overproduced the melanin pigment. (Photo: Steve Ross)
(Photo: Steve Ross)

MOAB, Utah — Recent test results confirmed a rare black deer in Moab died of chronic wasting disease: a rare, fatal disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk and moose. The deer was well-known and loved by the residents of Moab.

Moab residents found the black deer, who they called Coal, lying dead in a Moab backyard Dec. 17. The Utah Division of Wildlife Services removed the body to perform a necropsy to determine the cause of death.

After the deer died, residents gathered together to memorialize Coal by mounting him, with a Colorado taxidermist offering to cover some of the costs. Residents and officials haven’t determined the location of the memorial, but say it is likely to be mounted in a public Moab building.

A black deer

The young 3-year-old deer had a rare melanistic condition that overproduced the melanin pigment. This caused the animal to be a dark color. It’s hard to quantify how many animals there are with this condition because of how rare it is.

There’s estimated to be around one in several million — making the deer rarer than the albino or piebald mule deer.

“This unique deer touched a lot of people’s lives in this area,” DWR conservation officer Adam Wallerstein said in a press release sent to KSL NewsRadio. “Coal is responsible for putting smiles on a lot of faces during his life. The community will feel his absence.”

Coal dies of chronic wasting disease

Over a month after the young deer died, test results confirmed Coal died of chronic wasting disease Jan. 23. The DWR confirmed the first Utah case of CWD  in 2003. Since then, the division has performed extensive monitor the disease and its prevalence in the state each year.

DWR officials regularly update the Mule Deer Management Plan, which includes a section that addresses ways to slow the spread of the disease in Utah.

CWD is caused by a protein particle call a prion that attaches itself to the brain and spine of its victim. It’s often compared to “Mad Cow Disease” found in cows.

The protein infects animals, causing severe symptoms until the animal dies. Symptoms include: lesions in the brain, emaciation, droopy ears and excessive salivation. Infected animals can transmit the disease through its urine, feces and saliva — or it can be directly transmitted through the soil after the animal dies, making the area susceptible to environmental contamination.

The disease is not widespread throughout Utah, but is mostly found in a few counties in central and Eastern Utah. The DWR has confirmed 15 positive cases of CWD in deer statewide since July 1, 2019. Sixty test results are still pending.

Wildlife

Photo of Amur Leopard cubs at hogle zoo...
Chandler Holt

Amur leopard cubs at Hogle Zoo make their first appearance

On Christmas day, Hogle Zoo welcomed two Amur leopard cubs. The cubs made their debut Friday morning and will be visible to guests in their exhibit.
27 days ago
hunting permits...
Mark Jones

DWR asking Utahns to keep dogs on a leash while in the outdoors

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are asking those who head outdoors this spring to keep their dogs on a leash.
1 month ago
bald eagles at farmington bay...
Mark Jones

Tracy Aviary taking precautions to protect birds from avian influenza

Tracy Aviary is working to protect its birds from the Avian Influenza, which was announced Monday by the Department of Agriculture and Food, to have arrived in Utah.
1 month ago
why not to gift animals for Easter...
Waverly Golden

Gifting animals for Easter might be a bad idea according to veterinarian

A lot of preparation and education is needed before housing a rabbit, duck, or chick, according to Utah State University's Veterinary school.
1 month ago
Antlers at auction were seized as evidence in poaching investigations...
Waverly Golden

Poached items auctioned off to fund wildlife conservation

The Division of Wildlife Resources will auction off antlers, furs, and other items it seized through poaching investigations.
1 month ago
Utah hunters...
Simone Seikaly

Three new laws impact Utah hunters and landowners

The bills, recently made law by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, affect Utah hunters and their ability to donate meat, use air bows, and kill big game.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Prescription opioid...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Rare black deer dies of chronic wasting disease in Moab