The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has confirmed that a bull moose killed by an archer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The moose was submitted for testing on Sept. 12.
CWD was diagnosed in testing completed by the Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Diagnostic lab. Because this is the first time CWD has been found in a wild moose, testing will be repeated on this sample.
Until now CWD had only been found in the wild in deer and elk.
The DOW and CSU have worked together to develop the most efficient and accurate CWD testing program in the country. CWD testing for moose was made mandatory in Colorado in 2003. Since 2002, 288 moose have been tested and the disease was not detected.
Nearly 13,000 deer and elk were submitted for CWD testing between Aug. 2004 and April 2005. Of those animals, 175 tested positive for CWD.
“This is a single case of CWD in moose, but given their social habits we believe that cases in moose are likely to be a rare occurrence,” said Mike Miller, wildlife veterinarian with the DOW.
Deer, elk and moose are all members of the deer family. But unlike deer and elk, moose do not form herds or large social groups. Moose are typically solitary animals and generally only stay with other moose in cow-calf pairs.
The moose was harvested legally by a licensed archery hunter in GMU 171, which is located in Jackson County, south of Cameron Pass.
The hunter who submitted the moose for testing was contacted and will have the choice of having his license fee refunded or receiving a cow moose license for the same Game Management Unit this year. He will also receive a refund from the DOW for the cost of processing the animal.
The hunter said that he is pleased that the DOW has the testing system available and he is glad to be able to contribute to the ongoing scientific research on CWD.
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that has been diagnosed in wild deer and elk in ten states and two Canadian provinces. Animals show no apparent signs of illness throughout much of disease course. In terminal stages of CWD, animals typically are emaciated and display abnormal behavior.
Epidemiologists with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have found no link between CWD and any human neurological disorders.