In a broad, snow-kissed valley near the impossibly wide Columbia River two biologists hunt for disease amidst signs of slaughter. It’s late January and Annemarie Prince and Ben Turncock, two Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists, are digging through the corpse of a deer looking for its lymph nodes. It’s bloody and smelly work since he deer most likely was killed by coyotes, an animal not known for tidy eating habits.

The task is made more difficult by the fact that the lymph nodes are small, bean-sized organs, located near a deer’s brain. Despite the organ’s diminutive stature, they’re a vital detection tool for biologists trying to locate chronic wasting disease.

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