Carol Northcut | Wednesday, 14 December 2022

I was going to write about fly lines and how difficult it can be for the financially-restricted to test them, but yesterday’s airing of a story about grizzlies grabbed my heart and attention.
Forty-seven grizzly bears died in the vicinity of Glacier National Park this last year. Thirty were killed due to interactions with livestock or humans, but many appeared to have suffered from a brain disease similar to prion disease. That is horrendously sad.

 Although I never want to meet a grizzly in the wild, I don’t want to see them suffer, either population-wise or individually. The cause of the disease is just now being studied, but the obvious inference is to suspect it’s from eating undulates that have chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease that affects the brain similarly to mad cow disease.

Some scientists have found that if macaque monkeys are fed meat or neuronal tissue infected with CWD, they develop the disease. Does that mean that if other species get it too? What about humans? It still is unclear whether humans can contract it by eating or handling infected animals, but because macaques are genetically most similar to humans, it’s quite suspect.

According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), as of June 2022, twenty-nine states in the U.S. and two provinces in Canada have reported CWD. It has also been reported in reindeer and moose in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.  In U.S. locales where the disease has a foothold, up to 25% of the deer, elk and moose may have it.

I am not a hunter, nor am I red meat consumer, but I am certain many of SL readers are both. If you are, this is just a reminder to test any undulate meat you harvest. An animal may bear the disease but not be symptomatic.

And what does that mean for handling bucktail and deer hairsince it comes attached to skin? We do not know, though the odds seem low because all meat and fat should have been scraped off. If you tend toward worry, try switching to craft fur. Tell THAT to Pat Cohen or Kelly Galloup, I dare ya!