Six CWD Cases Found In
New Areas Of Colorado

By Dave Buchanan
The Daily Sentinel - Grand Junction

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 culling operations.
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 costs.
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 lymph tissues.
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.  
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