CWD testing for deer was mandatory in area units during 2005 hunting season.

None of the more than 1,300 deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the Gunnison Basin during the 2005 big-game hunting season tested positive for the disease. Although it is impossible to prove the disease is totally absent from the Gunnison Basin, the latest results suggest if the disease is present it is at very low prevalence rates. Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) biologists explain that the agency can say with 95 percent confidence that the prevalence of chronic wasting disease is less than 1 percent in the deer population in the Gunnison area. The DOW mandated testing for CWD in deer during the most recent season in Game Management Units 54, 55, 551, 66 and 67. Hunters responded by turning in 1,316 heads for testing; another 23 deer killed by vehicles also were tested. The DOW, which has tested for CWD in the Gunnison area intermittently since the early 1990s, reached its short-term sampling goals in the basin with this year’s submissions. As a result, no mandatory testing will be required for the foreseeable future. “Obviously, this is great news for the Gunnison area and we thank hunters for responding to the call,” said Tom Spezze, the DOW’s southwest regional manager. “The Division of Wildlife will continue to work diligently to monitor chronic wasting disease throughout the state.” Elk also were checked for CWD in the basin; testing, however, was not mandatory. No CWD has been detected in the approximately 1,000 elk tested in the Gunnison area since 2002. While the results are encouraging, the local DOW managers will keep their eyes on the herds. If any Gunnison-area residents see deer, elk, or moose that appear to be ill, they should call the local DOW office at (970) 641-7060.