Wasting disease hits 16 percent of male deer, elk, moose tested in parts of Colorado
Colorado Parks and Wildlife task force mulls increased monitoring, increased hunting on infected herds
Chronic wasting disease, which attacks the brain of deer, elk and moose, has infected up to 16 percent of male animals tested in parts of Colorado, data show — compelling state wildlife managers to fight back.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife leaders last week called combating chronic wasting disease a top priority. They’ve launched a task force and are mulling tactics including tracking the disease by requiring hunters to test carcasses of the animals they kill and trying to reduce the prevalence of the disease by hunting bucks in hard-hit herds.
It is a disease that threatens the health of Colorado wildlife populations already hammered by rapid human population growth and a development boom that devours open habitat.
First recognized in 1967 in deer held captive at a Colorado wildlife facility, CWD is prion disease — a variant of mad cow and scrapie, which infect livestock, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob, which infects humans — that has been found in 24 states, as well as Canada, South Korea, Finland and Norway.
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials warn that “there may be a small risk” for people who eat the meat of infected animals. CDPHE advises hunters who kill deer and elk from herds where 5 percent or more of males are infected to have animal carcasses tested.
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