- A deadly neurological disease affecting deer and elk
continues to rear its head in new places across northwest Colorado.
- Recent tests for chronic wasting disease on hunter-killed
animals reveal five more deer and a bull elk positive for the disease,
with two of the deer and the elk coming from areas in northwest Colorado
where CWD has not previously been found.
- Some of the findings are the farthest west the disease
has been found in the United States.
- The newest findings include a deer from game management
unit 5, in the northwest corner of Routt County near the Wyoming border;
a deer in unit 10, about 28 miles north of Rangely near Dinosaur National
Monument and close to the Utah border; and a third deer in unit 51, south
of Chatfield Reservoir near the town of Louviers.
- Other CWD-infected deer include one killed in unit 23,
five miles south of Meeker, and a deer in unit 301, 10 miles northwest
of Craig. An infected bull elk was killed in unit 12 in the southeasternmost
corner of Moffat County.
- In these three latter cases, the animals were killed
in areas where the always-fatal brain disease had earlier been detected.
- Chronic wasting disease is caused by an aberrant protein
prion that eats microscopic holes in the brain of its victim, causing it
to become emaciated and die.
- DOW Director Russell George said the growing number
of CWD-positive animals reflects the increase in the number of hunters
out in the field during the busiest of the fall hunting seasons.
- Division of Wildlife officials say hunters as of Friday
have submitted more than 16,000 animal heads for testing, with tests completed
on more than 11,000 of those.
- Initial estimates this summer had Colorado State University
testing up to 50,000 heads this year, but now the DOW expects much fewer,
perhaps half the original estimate.
- Tests conducted this fall by CSU have indicated CWD
in 67 animals, including kills by hunters, road-killed animals and disease-control
- Twenty-two of the diseased animals have come from outside
the endemic area of northeast Colo- rado, where chronic wasting disease
has been known to exist for more than 20 years.
- Thanks to a new diagnostic test, hunters submitting
deer and elk heads for CWD tests are being advised results may take at
least two weeks. Last year the results often took months.
- The Division of Wildlife notifies any hunter whose animal
tests positive and reimburses the hunter for license fees and meat-processing
- Colorado State University recently won U.S. Department
of Agriculture approval of a rapid test called the enzyme linked immuno-sorbent
assay (ELISA) test that looks for evidence of the CWD-causing protein in
- The test has been approved for deer but not elk, CSU
pathologist Barb Powers told the Colorado Wildlife Commission on Friday.
- She said approval of the test for elk is expected by
the end of this month.
- Some computer models by scientists in other states suggest
that if left unchecked, CWD eventually can wipe out deer and elk herds.
- Although state and federal health officials have found
no indication of any human threat from CWD, hunters are being advised not
to eat the meat from any diseased animals.
- © 2002 Cox Newspapers, Inc.