First CWD case found south of the Palmer Divide.

An emaciated mule deer buck found dead in southwest Colorado Springs has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, or CWD, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) announced today.

The animal was collected by the DOW and tested at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory. A test completed April 30 confirmed the deer had CWD.

“We will conduct additional surveillance in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area to determine if there are more animals with CWD,” said Mark Konishi, the DOW’s regional manager in southeastern Colorado. “We will also encourage hunters to have animals they harvest tested for CWD this fall.”

More than 100 deer and elk taken by hunters in the Colorado Springs area have been tested over the past two years and CWD was not detected in any of those samples.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological illness of elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. Animals with CWD have been found in portions of northeastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming for more than two decades. Two years ago, CWD was detected in deer and elk in northwestern Colorado. The disease has now been found in wild deer in eight states and the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

“The deer found in Colorado Springs was brought to our attention by a local resident, and we appreciate such cooperation,” said Kathi Green, the DOW’s disease management coordinator. “We need the public’s help in identifying deer and elk that appear to be ill as part of our disease monitoring.”

Green urged anyone who sees a deer or elk that appears to be sick or injured to contact their local DOW office. The telephone number is in the blue pages of telephone books under state government.

The DOW has tested more than 45,000 deer, elk and moose throughout Colorado in the past two years as a part of its ongoing surveillance efforts.

“Our knowledge about where CWD exists depends on adequate surveillance, and animals harvested by hunters provide the large majority of the animals we test,” Green explained. “The DOW will be asking hunters in key areas of Colorado to submit their harvested animals for testing during the coming big-game hunting season to allow us to continue surveillance.”

Green also said it is important that Coloradans comply with regulations forbidding the feeding of big game.

“Feeding causes animals to congregate, making it easier for contagious diseases to spread,” she said.

Recent work by researchers from Colorado and Wyoming has confirmed that CWD is spread through animal-to-animal contact.

Federal and state health officials have found no connection between CWD and human health. As a precaution, they recommend that humans not consume meat from animals that appear ill or test positive for the presence of disease, including CWD.

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