CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE UPDATE1
SURVEILLANCE OF WILD ANIMALS
Ongoing surveillance conducted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife indicates that chronic wasting disease (CWD) is found primarily in wild deer and elk herds in northeastern Colorado. The status of the disease outside of the northeastern “established” area remains unclear and will be further evaluated following the 2002 big game seasons. From 1996-2001, the Division, in cooperation with the University of Wyoming and Colorado State University, examined more than 3,000 animals from throughout the state, including each of the large mule deer herds on the Western Slope. During the same years, the Division examined more than 8,500 deer and elk harvested or culled in the CWD-established portions of northeastern Colorado. Estimated infection rates in mule deer harvested from the northeastern CWD-established management units through 2001 range from <1 to 11%. Prevalence averages about 5% in 19 northeastern Game Management Units (GMUs) combined. An assessment of any trend in prevalence is ongoing.
RESEARCH AND MANAGEMENT
Reducing Prevalence in the Wild
The Division is continuing several management and research projects as part of ongoing efforts to learn more about CWD and how to reduce the prevalence and distribution of the disease. In GMU 9, located directly north of Fort Collins, researchers and managers are conducting a management study of the relationship between deer density and CWD prevalence. The goal is to reduce the deer population in this unit (approximately 2,000 animals) by half over the next two years, then maintain the population at about 1,000 deer. Monitoring will continue for several years to detect changes in CWD prevalence. A nearby area in Wyoming with similar infection rates is serving as a control. To date, the reduction goal has not been met and the distribution of reductions has not been uniform. In light of the results thus far, the Division will be considering alternative approaches.
To help achieve population management goals and prevent the spread of CWD, Division staff culled 861 deer and elk on private and public property in several areas in northeastern Colorado since January 2002. Every deer collected was examined to further understand CWD distribution, prevalence and transmission. In some areas specific groups of deer were targeted for removal because CWD cases had been previously detected nearby. In many of these situations, prevalence among culled deer was much higher than expected based on survey data. This finding suggests that targeted culling around CWD “hotspots” may be an effective management strategy.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado Wildlife Commission are committed to limiting both distribution and occurrence of CWD. In September 2001, the Commission adopted a policy (amended on June 10, 2002) that makes CWD containment and prevalence reduction the highest priorities for managing deer and elk populations in northeastern Colorado. This unprecedented emphasis on disease management is being reflected in revised herd management plans. On February 21, 2002 the Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a set of data analysis unit (DAU) plans consistent with the policy. These plans call for expanded use of aggressive harvest and selective culling to achieve specific management objectives for containment and prevalence reduction in infected herd units. Current estimates indicate that 5,000 deer (approximately 20% of the population) in select portions of the CWD-established area will have to be removed to meet these goals. Hunters took more than 2,600 deer during the 2001-2002 seasons. The Division’s objective was to remove the remainder of the 5,000 (to the extent that access to private property was granted).
CWD Budget Information
A one-time supplemental appropriation was approved on December 5, 2001, granting the Division of Wildlife $300,143 to carry out the intense culling effort during the winter of 2001-2002. Colorado legislators later granted the Division of Wildlife authority to annually spend $430,750 on CWD management during the state fiscal year beginning July 1, 2002. As a result of the outbreak on the West slope, legislators in May 2002 approved another proposal to increase the spending authority of the Division of Wildlife by an additional $1.9 million for CWD management, also beginning July 1, 2002.
Tonsillar Biopsy Method in Deer
Researchers completed an important study validating the first test available for detecting CWD in live animals. In Estes Park and an area west of Livermore, Colorado, Division researchers collected tonsil biopsies from about 160 deer and compared results to harvest data to learn if early detection of CWD was feasible in live animals. Previous research has shown that aberrant prion protein accumulates in deer tonsils beginning in early stages of the disease, making tonsillar biopsy a potential detection tool. This field study confirmed that tonsillar biopsy is a valid method for detecting CWD in live deer, and may have potential as an adjunct management tool. The Division is now assessing this technique as a practical management tool under field conditions. Until such an evaluation has occurred, this method will be considered as experimental for management purposes. Tonsillar biopsy is not a reliable technique for elk.
Transmission to Cattle
Experiments are underway in Colorado, Wyoming, and Iowa to determine whether CWD is transmissible to cattle. Preliminary data have shown that it is extremely difficult to infect cattle with CWD. Only a few cattle became ill after receiving CWD pathogen injected into their brains. Cattle living in close contact with infected deer or ingesting infected deer brain have not developed the disease during the first five years of the 10-year study. Based on this and other research, it appears that there is a substantial biological barrier to transmission of CWD from deer to cattle.
CAPTIVE HERD STATUS
A month-long investigation of about 154 elk purchased from an infected ranch in Stoneham revealed that two additional Colorado ranches had a total of 4 animals that tested positive (one facility in Ault and one in Fort Morgan). A positive captive elk that was a traceback to the Stoneham facility has been detected in Kansas. Excluding Colorado itself, 19 other states have received approximately 262 animals from positive herds in Colorado.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of about $12.5 million to indemnify elk ranchers, including those in Colorado, clearing the way for depopulation of quarantined captive herds. Colorado depopulation began at the Del Norte facility on February 8, 2002 and was completed shortly thereafter. Two additional positive animals were identified from this facility through follow-up testing. The Cowdrey facility was depopulated next followed by the Stoneham facility. The depopulation of 1,561 elk on the nine quarantined Colorado herds (Del Norte, Cowdrey, Ault, Ft. Morgan, Longmont and four units at Stoneham) was completed in March 2002. The Division of Wildlife is cooperating with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the USDA in the development of premises and repopulation plans for Colorado facilities outside of the CWD-established area. In April 2002, the USDA announced the availability of funds to buy out the remaining captive elk facilities in the CWD-established area in northeastern Colorado. As a result, 16 herds within this area (approximately 1,300 elk) were destroyed. Only two ranches in the CWD-established area chose not to participate (a positive animal was subsequently discovered on one of these facilities). Thus far, 13 of the 16 herds participating in the buyout program have tested negative. Of the 1,113 animals tested to date, 4 have been positive. The positive animals were taken from two separate facilities. The Colorado Division of Wildlife is waiting for final test results.
Repopulation of Facilities
The USDA solicited comments on an Interim Rule (Chronic Wasting Disease in Cervids; Payment of Indemnity) published in the Federal Register on February 8, 2002 (Vol. 67, No. 27, pg. 5925-5934). The comment period closed on April 9, 2002. The Division of Wildlife responded and recommended that the final rule should explicitly state that protecting wild cervid populations is a goal no less important than the protection of captive herds. We also stressed that the concept of “premise plans” should be incorporated into the final rule because the Division believes that premise plans are distinct from and address different concerns than “herd plans.” Furthermore, we recommended that the definition of “state representative” should be broadened to include state fish and wildlife agencies with management responsibility for wild cervid populations. Finally, in response to the specific request for comments on disinfection techniques and the duration for leaving the property uninhabited after depopulation, the Division noted that it is inappropriate to establish rigid criteria based on an evolving scientific understanding.
The Del Norte (Anta Grande) facility is double-fenced. The total cost for fencing was approximately $30,000 (paid for by the Division of Wildlife). Division personnel killed 12 deer and 8 elk near this facility to monitor the potential for the disease to spread into the wild. Nearly 90 hunter-killed and road-killed animals were also collected for testing. A contract with the owner of the Cowdrey (Trophy Mountain) facility allowed the Division to proceed with contracting for the construction of a double perimeter fence. Construction of a second perimeter fence (approximately 10 miles) has been largely completed. The cost for the project is approximately $300,000. Fencing is a costly undertaking compared to the value of the lease for the State Trust Land. The 640 acres of State Trust Land associated with the Cowdrey facility is being leased by the elk breeder for less than $1,000 per year. Approximately one hundred sixty nine (169) wild deer and at least two elk were killed last winter inside the Cowdrey fence. At least three wild deer were also taken outside of the facility. Several hundred captive elk were released into this facility in 2002 and later in August a few wild mule deer were observed trapped within the enclosure.
The ban on movement of captive animals out of the Colorado CWD-established area and off of quarantined facilities outside of the established area is still in effect. However, the Colorado Department of Agriculture lifted its emergency ban on the movement of other ranched elk within the state. The Agriculture Department currently licenses about 100 facilities (down from approximately 160). The restriction was originally imposed to allow time to identify, locate and test the tracebacks from quarantined facilities within Colorado. Those tests are complete. The Division of Wildlife imposed a similar moratorium on the 12 facilities (for deer) that it licenses. The Division recommended a 60-month surveillance requirement (with no phase-in) to the Captive Wildlife and Alternative Livestock (CWAL) Board on December 21, 2001. That regulation applied to both importation and intrastate movement of animals from DOW-regulated facilities. It should be noted that fewer than 50 percent of infected herds were detected within 36 months of surveillance. The CWAL Board deferred action on the recommendation until its January 7, 2002 meeting. At that meeting, the CWAL Board voted against the DOW recommendation. Nonetheless, the DOW presented the 60-month surveillance/status recommendation to the Wildlife Commission on January 10. The Commission voted unanimously to approve the recommendation. Because the approval included an emergency provision, the 60-month regulation took effect immediately. On January 10, the Wildlife Commission also reasserted its authority over elk importation by assuming responsibility for approving all importation requests. The Division indicated its willingness to coordinate with the state veterinarian’s office when reviewing applications for importation. The Division appeared before the Agriculture Commission at its meeting on February 20, 2002 to discuss the action taken by the Wildlife Commission in January and to comment on CWD proposals under consideration by the Agriculture Commission. The Division provided the Colorado Department of Agriculture a proposed memorandum of understanding detailing the specific roles and responsibilities of the two agencies regarding importation regulations. The Colorado Department of Agriculture presented its proposed CWD regulations to the Wildlife Commission on March 14, 2002 in Denver. The Wildlife Commission instructed the Division of Wildlife to work with staff of the Department of Agriculture to attempt to resolve concerns. The goal was to adopt mutually acceptable regulations by May 2002. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed on June 20, 2002 and the process of drafting regulations to implement the Agreement has begun.
Captive Mule Deer Issues
The Division is currently considering a variety of regulatory options pertaining to the Colorado captive mule deer industry. Under review are such issues as fencing, testing and a proposal to require surveillance prior to intrastate movement of untested animals. Currently about 185 mule deer and 650 elk are held in Division-licensed facilities.
Movement of Hunter-Killed Carcasses and Parts
On May 2, 2002, the Wildlife Commission approved a set of carcass transportation regulations applicable to hunters in Colorado’s northeast CWD-established area. Those regulations make it unlawful for individuals to transport out of the northeast CWD-established area any dead deer or elk taken from that area (collectively GMUs 7, 8, 9, 19, 20, 29, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 191, and 951), except for the following portions of the carcass:
1. Meat that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately). 2. Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached. 3. Meat that has been boned out. 4. Hides with no heads attached. 5. Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached. 6. Antlers with no meat or tissue attached. 7. Upper canine teeth, also known as “buglers”, “whistlers”, or “ivories”. 8. Finished taxidermy heads.
Regulations also prohibit the importation of dead deer or elk from any specific area of the United States or other country in which there has been a diagnosis of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the wild, with the same exceptions noted above. See the actual regulations for more detail.
CWD-RELATED MEETINGS AND EVENTS
The Colorado Division of Wildlife helped host the Chronic Wasting Disease Symposium on August 6-7, 2002 in Denver. Nearly 500 people attended to hear a variety of presentations on all aspects of CWD. The meeting was originally planned for September 15 -17, 2001 but was canceled due to the events of September 11.
Representatives from the states of Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas, North Dakota and Colorado met on December 17, 2001, on March 5, 2002 and again on August 8, 2002 to discuss CWD. Representatives from the State of Wisconsin attended the March meeting and representatives from Utah, Iowa, New Mexico, Alberta and Saskatchewan joined the August discussion. The group continued to work on the development of a multi-state CWD Management Plan and to consider regulations governing the movement of live animals and carcasses/parts. The regulations are intended to serve as guidelines for other states when they begin to contemplate state-specific rules.
National CWD Plan
On June 26, 2002 a “Plan for Assisting States, Federal Agencies, and Tribes in Managing Chronic Wasting Disease in Wild and Captive Cervids” (Plan) was released to the public. The plan proposes goals and actions and serves as a blueprint for future activities. The plan was developed by a team of professionals in the fields of wildlife disease, wildlife management and wildlife biology. It identifies actions needed to determine the extent of the disease and management actions needed to prevent its spread.
As a follow-up to the Plan, the National CWD Plan Implementation Document was drafted. A 9-member team representing the States, Department of Interior, and United States Department of Agriculture with input from a myriad of wildlife professionals across the nation developed the Implementation Document. It conveys who is responsible for individual projects, identifies what the projects will accomplish to help address CWD, what the cost is, and what time frame is needed to complete proposed projects. The final version of the draft implementation document is expected to be released in mid-September. Testimony Before Congress
Representatives from the Colorado Division of Wildlife and several other States testified before a joint meeting of the Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health and the Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans in Washington, D.C. on May 16, 2002. The hearing was intended to focus on ways federal agencies can support state agencies in the effort to prevent the further spread of chronic wasting disease, and to consider ways in which the federal government can aid and support research on containing and eventually eradicating the disease.
NEWS FROM 20022
CWD Found in Wild Elk in South Dakota
The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks reported in early December that a white-tail buck struck and killed by a car near the Black Hills in late September had tested positive for CWD. About 1,600 deer and elk from South Dakota have been submitted for testing thus far. Turn-around times for test results are on the order of about 3 months.
In November, the Superintendent of Wind Cave National Park announced that CWD had been found in 5-year old elk in the park. The animal was exhibiting symptoms consistent with the disease. A deer shot by a hunter near Oral in 2001 also tested positive for CWD. Six South Dakota captive elk herds have been infected with CWD beginning in 1997. One of these herds was adjacent to the southern boundary of Wind Cave National Park. Alberta Case in Farmed White-tailed Deer
The first case of CWD in a farmed white-tailed deer in Canada has been reported from Alberta where CWD surveillance was voluntary beginning in 1996 and has been mandatory since July 2002.
CWD Found in Wild White-tailed Deer in Illinois
On December 16, 2002, the Illinois DNR announced the discovery of CWD in three more northern Illinois deer. The three deer were harvested by hunters. Two of the three cases (one in Boone County and one in Winnebego County) were found within approximately two miles of the first case (also from Boone County) which was reported in November 2002. The fourth animal was harvested northeast of Woodstock in McHenry County. More than 1,450 CWD tests had been completed as of mid-December.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced on November 1, 2002 the detection of CWD in a wild deer near Roscoe in Boone County. The female deer was shot by a landowner in late October because he believed the animal was ill. Roscoe is about 50 miles southeast of Madison, Wisconsin. This was the first known case of CWD in Illinois.
Detection of CWD in an Elk from GMU 6
A hunter killed a CWD-positive cow elk in the far north end of unit 6 on November 2. This is the first detected case of CWD in big game in unit 6.
Detection of CWD in Elk from GMUs 11 and 181
The first CWD-positive elk has been detected in GMU 11. A hunter harvested the cow elk on November 12 south of highway 40, near Maybell. The first CWD-positive elk in GMU 181 has also been detected. A hunter took the cow elk November 9.
Detection of First CWD Cases in Elk from GMU 211
A hunter shot a CWD-positive adult cow elk in unit 211on November 7, 2002. On November 29, a division officer shot a cow elk that appeared sick. That animal tested positive for CWD as well. These are the first documented cases of CWD in wild elk in this unit.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMUs 211, 11, 181, 28, 161, and 4
On December 19, 2002 a Division officer collected a road-killed mule deer along state highway 13 (in Unit 211) that subsequently tested positive for CWD.
Previously, on November 22, the Division of Wildlife announced the detection of CWD in 7 mule deer from 5 new game management units (11, 211, 181, 28 and 161). Five of the deer were bucks. The 2 females were taken in units 181 and 28. Since that time, a second CWD-positive deer was detected in unit 11. The first positive mule deer discovered in unit 4 was a buck taken by a hunter on November 5.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Elk in GMU 10
The first CWD-positive elk in GMU 10 has been detected. The bull was taken on October 6 by a hunter in the same vicinity as the positive mule deer harvested on October 25. The elk head was not submitted until six weeks after harvest because it was in the possession of a taxidermist.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 10
A mule deer buck harvested on October 25 has tested positive for CWD. The deer was taken about 28 miles north of Rangely, near Dinosaur National Monument.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 51
A buck mule deer was killed by a hunter on September 15. The animal was not submitted for testing until November because the hunter was waiting on the availability of a taxidermist. Previously a mule deer buck harvested on October 19 tested positive for CWD. The deer was taken about 1 mile west of Louvier, south of Chatfield Reservoir.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 5
A mule deer buck harvested on October 24 has tested positive for CWD. The deer was taken in the northwest corner of Routt County.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 3
A female mule deer taken by a hunter about 16 miles northwest of Craig on October 20 tested positive for CWD.
Detection of CWD in Two Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 301
A male mule deer taken by a hunter about 10 miles northwest of Craig on October 20 tested positive for CWD. A female mule deer taken by a hunter about 4 miles north of Craig on October 20 tested positive for CWD.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 22
A male mule deer taken by a hunter about 27 miles northwest of Meeker on October 22 tested positive for CWD.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 23
A male mule deer taken by a hunter about 5 miles south of Meeker on October 20 tested positive for CWD. Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Elk in GMU 23
A bull elk taken on October 12 by a hunter less than 4 miles north of Buford in Rio Blanco County has tested positive for CWD.
Detection of CWD in Eight Hunter-Killed Elk in GMU 18
Two additional CWD-positive cow elk were taken by hunters in unit 18 on November 25 and 29, 2002. These animals bring the total number of positive elk in this unit to 8. Immediately prior to these adult females, three additional elk from unit 18 had tested positive for CWD. The elk, 2 bulls and one cow, were taken by hunters between November 2 and November 5. Previously a bull elk taken by a hunter in Grand County near Grand Lake on October 13 tested positive for CWD. On October 12, two elk killed by hunters in Middle Park (specifically GMU 18) also tested positive for the disease. One was a cow elk taken by a hunter about five miles northeast of Kremmling the opening morning of the first rifle season. The second was a bull killed about seven miles northwest of Granby. Both animals were harvested in Grand County. Four elk now have been detected with CWD in Middle Park (see below).
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Deer in GMU 36
A hunter killed a female mule deer west of Green Mountain Reservoir on October 20, 2002. The animal tested positive for CWD. This is the first case of CWD detected in that unit. The deer was previously thought to have been taken in unit 37.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Elk in GMU 37
A bull elk killed by a hunter west of Green Mountain Reservoir (GMU 37) on September 14, 2002 has tested positive for CWD. This was the second wild elk found with CWD in western Colorado in 2002 and the first in Summit County. Examinations of 410 harvested mule deer from this general area (DAU-9) in 1999 did not yield any CWD-positive animals. With that sample size there is a 98% probability that a CWD-positive animal would have been detected at a prevalence of 1% or greater.
Detection of CWD in Mule Deer in GMU 13
A mule deer buck taken by a hunter on November 3 about one mile north of Hamilton tested positive. A CWD-positive female mule deer was killed by a hunter in the general vicinity on November 4 as well. In addition, a deer killed by a vehicle about four miles east of Hayden in northwest Colorado previously tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The animal, found in game management unit 13, was sent in for testing as part of the Division’s routine surveillance for CWD. The deer was picked up by the Division of Wildlife on October 4, 2002, just south of U.S. Highway 40. It was the second positive mule deer found on the Western Slope this season.
Detection of CWD in Hunter-Killed Mule Deer in GMU 421
A mule deer buck killed by a hunter in northeastern Mesa County on the Western Slope has tested positive for CWD. The deer was taken with a muzzleloader on September 20, 2002 about 9 miles northeast of Collbran on the south side of Battlement Mesa in game management unit 421. It is the first CWD-positive mule deer found in western Colorado this season, and the first since 10 wild deer killed during a special culling effort this spring in southwestern Routt County tested positive for the disease.
Detection of CWD in an Injured Elk in GMU 441
On November 7 a hunter harvested a mule deer buck east of Craig near the boundary of unit 13. Previously, on September 6, 202 a Division of Wildlife officer shot an elk in Routt County (GMU 441) which later tested positive for CWD, the first time an elk with the disease had been found outside of northeastern Colorado. Following up on a report from an area resident, the officer found the elk in poor condition suffering from an injured jaw. The animal was tested for CWD as part of the agency’s disease surveillance effort.
Detection of CWD in Four Hunter-Killed Mule Deer in GMU 461
Two more CWD-positive female mule deer were taken by hunters in unit 461. Both animals were harvested on December 11, 2002. Prior to that, a female mule deer killed on October 18, 2002 by a rifle hunter just west of Chatfield Reservoir in Jefferson County tested positive for CWD. The deer was taken not far from where an archery hunter killed a mule deer buck with CWD on Labor Day, 2002. These cases represent the southernmost positives along the Front Range. Unit 461 is just southwest of Denver and is bordered on one side by the South Platte River. Last winter, a mule deer with CWD was found along the foothills in Jefferson County (GMU 38) about 10 miles south of Boulder. At the time, unit 38 was the furthest south an animal with CWD had been found in the state.
CWD Found in a Colorado GMU 38
CWD has been found in game management unit 38, immediately west and north of Denver. A single deer was found dead in a yard during the winter of 2001. The animal was likely in the final stages of infection and apparently died of the disease. Test results confirmed the animal was positive for CWD. This is the first time the disease has been found south of Boulder. Unit 38 is directly south of unit 29. The Division also reported finding 3 additional CWD positive deer from unit 29. All 3 were collected as road kills from within the city of Boulder between November and December 2001.
Discovery of CWD in GMU 12 (Southeast of Craig, Colorado)
The first two cases of wild elk with CWD in unit 12 have been found. A hunter took the first animal on October 20. The second elk, a cow, was killed by a hunter on November 11. In addition, mule deer hunters killed 3 positive bucks on November 2 and 3, all in the north half of the unit. Prior to that, hunters killed two CWD-positive mule deer bucks in unit 12 On October 20 and 21, 2002,. One deer was taken about 10 miles south of Craig and the other about 6 miles south of Pagoda (about 4 miles southwest of where 10 positive mule deer were reported in April 2002 – see below).
During January and February 2002, hunters and Division staff destroyed more than 340 entrapped wild deer and elk at the Motherwell facility in Routt County (on the West slope of Colorado). The animals were killed in order to prevent them from escaping back into the wild after having been inadvertently confined the previous summer with captive-bred elk. On March 29, 2002 the Division of Wildlife announced that one wild mule deer from this facility had tested positive for CWD. A second wild mule deer from the same sample was subsequently diagnosed as having CWD. Beginning April 1, 2002, Division removed 311 wild mule deer within a 5-mile radius of the Motherwell facility. The operation took less than 48 hours. The effort was designed to provide managers with an initial assessment of whether or not the disease was present in free-roaming deer and elk outside the facility. Two of the deer tested positive for CWD, confirming that the disease exists in wild deer on the West slope of Colorado. An additional 18 deer were then killed near the location of the two positive wild deer. Testing of these indicated a third CWD-positive free-roaming deer. During the week of April 15, Division staff (with the able assistance of USDA-APHIS, local landowners and interested constituents) culled approximately 134 elk and 284 deer from within the same 5-mile radius of the Motherwell facility. Final test results indicate a total of 10 positive mule deer (6 from outside of the pens and 4 from inside the pens). All elk have tested negative. During the past four years the Division has tested more than 2000 samples of deer and elk (including more than 400 from herds in the vicinity of the Motherwell elk ranch) from outside of the CWD-established area. Until April 2002, no free-roaming wild animals outside of the CWD-established area in northeastern Colorado had been found to be infected.
Suspect Cases in Colorado
The Colorado Division of Wildlife continues to examine cases of suspect animals (deer and elk exhibiting neurological symptoms similar to those seen in advanced cases of CWD). Most recently an animal was collected from near Pagosa Springs. Based on the independent opinions of two expert pathologists, the animal was not afflicted with CWD. Many states are now increasing their efforts to examine such cases.
Wildlife Commission Policy on CWD
The Wildlife Commission revised its policy on June 10, 2002. The revision primarily provides the Division additional direction regarding a finding of CWD in areas of the state where the disease was not previously known to exist in wild deer or elk. A copy of the revised policy can be found on the Division’s website.
Outside Review of Colorado’s CWD Management Program
The Division of Wildlife began discussing the concept of forming a review panel in October 2001. The discussions were precipitated largely by a recommendation from a few wildlife professionals outside of the Division. Later that fall and winter the Division began to receive similar recommendations from the public. In response to these suggestions, Director Russell George decided to convene such a panel and on March 25, 2002 he extended an invitation to five individuals. The five experts were selected on the basis of their expertise relative to the topic of managing wildlife diseases. All five individuals agreed to serve on the “Blue Ribbon Panel.” The Panel was charged with reviewing and e