View Full Version : CWD in W. Slope wild deer

April 11, 2002, 03:17 PM
CWD in W. Slope wild deer
Test results dash hopes disease confined

By Theo Stein
Denver Post Environment Writer
Wednesday, April 10, 2002 - Two wild deer shot by wildlife biologists last week near a northwest Colorado elk ranch under quarantine for chronic wasting disease tested positive for the fatal brain-wasting malady, state officials said Tuesday.

The discovery dashed hopes that the disease, which makes its victims grow thin and die as it eats microscopic holes in their brains, was confined to the 6,000-acre Motherwell Ranch. Its appearance in wild, free-ranging deer herds along the Williams Fork River drainage could hamstring the hunting-based economy of the state's Western Slope and beyond.

"This disease has the potential to change the very character of Colorado," said Gov. Bill Owens at a press conference at the Division of Wildlife's Denver headquarters.

Even as the governor pledged quick and unrelenting measures to control the outbreak, rifle-toting biologists from the Colorado Division of Wildlife were shooting 30 to 40 deer in the area where the two sick wild deer were found. It's the same strategy the agency is using to eliminate hot spots of infection in northern Boulder County.

The two new cases were found in a sample of 311 deer killed last week within a 5-mile radius around the ranch.

State wildlife officials hope the relatively low rate of infection means they still have a chance to slow the outbreak or even stop it.

"It's good we were able to find it early," said Mike Miller, the DOW's wildlife veterinarian, who thinks the Western Slope's normally harsh winters will act as a brake on CWD. "If we can get on top of it now, knock deer numbers back and hope for a little more of a winter than we had this year, we may have a chance."

But thousands of deer and elk will soon be migrating through the area to higher elevations among the Flat Tops - seasonal movements that could spread the disease.

"That's definitely a concern," said John Ellenberger, the wildlife agency's big-game manager.

Herd migrations also make gauging the infection rate difficult. As the winter's meager snows recede, deer and elk in the area will follow the snow line into zones of aspen, spruce and fir, where they will summer. Other deer wintering to the west of the area will move through on their way to summer range.

This summer, the agency is planning to take another 300 deer in widening concentric rings around the known cases to get a better handle on infection rates. They'll also be working with hunters to sample deer taken during the fall.

"Testing is such a critical part of this process that every time we get a chance to test a head, we're going to," said DOW director Russell George.

"We may have to do this for two or three years before we have a real handle on it," said Miller.

At a press conference in Denver, Owens said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Venneman told him additional laboratory facilities would soon be available to help process the thousands of wild deer and ranched elk that have been slaughtered in five states to control outbreaks of the disease.

Owens also said he'd sent a letter to eight Western governors calling for a coordinated regional approach to CWD research and control.

Miller and other officials still don't know how the disease appeared more than 100 miles west of the so-called "endemic area" of northeastern Colorado and southern Wyoming.

"I don't think natural migration explains this one but again, you just never know anymore," he said. "We looked hard in Middle Park. We've looked hard in North Park. We just haven't found anything."

Art Eatman
April 11, 2002, 04:24 PM
Serous bummer.


Dave B
April 12, 2002, 11:14 AM
Yeah. Big trouble. That ranch is only a few miles from here.

I hope the DOW does a better job with this than they did with Whirling Disease.

Anyway, if hunters and their families were (known to be) in danger it would be a serious, long term hit to the local economy.

It's a good thing humans can't be infected from eating the CWD animal's meat. :confused:


April 16, 2002, 11:17 PM
the prions are centered in the brain & spine matter

you should be able to eat the haunches but with the potential of a 10 year dormancy
followed by a majory debilitating crash to dementia...

its no wonder they burned all those mad cows

Dan Morris
April 17, 2002, 06:13 AM
FWIW, article in yesturdays Denver Post, stated that DOW is now going to kill ALL deer and Elk in a 5 mile radius OUTSIDE of this ranch. Looks like a real problem.

April 17, 2002, 10:37 AM
and Friends for the Animals wants to lace deer feed with birth control hormones

yeah thats real smart

April 17, 2002, 10:43 AM

Art Eatman
April 17, 2002, 01:58 PM
Ah, the old hormone thing again. Neutering was once proposed as a coyote-control method.

Fella in the audience of the public hearing stood up and offered, "Ma'am, the problem for the sheep is, the coyotes are eatin' 'em, not rapin' 'em."

Some folks just don't get smarter with age. For some, age doesn't bring wisdom; just wrinkles.

:D, Art