Wyoming Refuge Using Massive ‘Mobile Crematorium’ to Incinerate Infected Elk

by Jonathan Howard

Wildlife officials do not take Chronic Wasting Disease lightly. So, they’re turning the heat up outdoors with an elk incinerator. That’s right, infected elk are going to be put through a large mobile crematorium. This is the best way to rid a population of the disease and to ensure the health and safety of other animals.

When it comes to conservation efforts, sometimes drastic measures have to be taken. CWD is no laughing matter. This disease is always fatal. A neurological disorder affecting deer, elk, moose, and other hooved animals there are wildlife officials all over the country battling this disease and others like it.

From the southeast to out west. Things are heating up in the battle between disease and these important pieces of American wildlife.

Stopping ‘Zombie’ Elk and Deer

You might know this disease by the moniker “zombie deer” which some officials don’t like so much.

Wyoming wildlife officials in Jackson are in charge of caring for a 24,700-acre refuge for elk. This is an important piece of land that allows these animals a safe place to live and thrive. CWD has caused many issues with that in recent years but not necessarily in Jackson. The National Elk Refuge contains a herd of more than 11,000 elk. The disease could spread quickly, but there’s no evidence it is in the refuge yet.

The “mobile crematory for ungulates” is a giant incinerator that has to be towed in on the back of a flatbed semi truck. Since the disease has taken hold of so many animals, this is a necessary step in containing the issue. The mobile crematory costs nearly $500,000 and is able to burn up to 550 elk each year.

Basically, Wyoming wildlife officials believe that it is possible the disease will be in the area eventually. So, getting ready is important. There have been elk in the state with CWD. And, this is how you get rid of them.

“Carcass incineration is part of the approved CWD response strategy,” said NER Senior Biologist Eric Cole, via Field & Stream. “Any elk exhibiting CWD symptoms will be euthanized, sampled and the carcass will be incinerated.”

By the time the winter comes in, about 7,000 elk will be residing in the refuge. That’s when the real monitoring and supervision happens, making sure that the herd isn’t being infected with CWD.

CWD Found in Texas

Just to put the whole situation into perspective, even Texas is dealing with CWD now. This disease has spread among all kinds of deer, elk, and moose populations. There really is no end in sight. Seeing the spread of this disease into other states like the Lone Star and even Alabama is troubling.

If you love the outdoors, then make sure to keep your eyes open for deer and wildlife with CWD. There are signs such as lethargy, and not really caring about humans being nearby. Basically, any abnormal behavior should be noted when you see a deer or elk.