CWD 'dream team' sought

Allard wants partnership to fight disease


U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard said he wants to see a partnership among local, state and federal agencies in combating chronic wasting disease, which is why he is lobbying both the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior to create a "dream team" to fight the disease.

"Chronic wasting disease is wreaking havoc in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Kansas and Oklahoma," Allard said Thursday in a press release. "We need to act quickly or this disease will redefine the wildlife characteristics of our state and our region."

He said he doesn't think states should be left alone in fighting the disease.

"The federal government must offer the services of its best and brightest researchers, scientists and wildlife experts toward the treatment and prevention of chronic wasting disease," he said. "I urge the USDA and the Department of the Interior to commit itself to providing all the resources needed to help stop the spread of CWD. We can win the battle against chronic wasting disease, but it is going to require a team effort involving both local, state a federal agencies working together."

Sean Conway, Sen. Allard's press secretary, said Allard is serious about his requests.

"If he doesn't get the cooperation he wants from the USDA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he'll be dealing with the president directly," he said.

Conway explained the "dream team" concept.

"It would consist of the best and brightest researchers working toward means of treating and controlling the disease," he said.

"This team could be deployed at any time to respond to hot spots wherever they might pop up."

Conway said a federally funded testing facility in Northwest Colorado, which recently was declared a "hot spot," is a possibility.

"That's why Sen. Allard has told Gov. Owens if there is something you need we'll go to bat for you," he said. "If he says there's a need for Northwest Colorado to have a testing facility that's something we'll definitely work on."

Right now the Colorado Division of Wildlife is seeking funds from the state Legislature that would enable it to set up a testing facility on the Western Slope for this hunting season.

Division of Wildlife Director Russell George said no decisions have been made on where the lab would be located, but said Craig and Grand Junction are two possibilities.

Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead sent out an e-mail Tuesday encouraging local outfitters and business people to write the DOW and stress the importance of setting up a lab in Moffat County.

"Statistically we have the highest percentage of hunters so it would make sense to put a lab in Moffat County," Grinstead said.

George said no decisions can be made until the department is assured it will be receiving money from the state.

Chronic wasting disease, which is a neurological disorder that leads to death in deer and elk, has been in Northeast Colorado for several years.

The disease became a Western Slope issue last month when it was discovered in two wild mule deer at the Motherwell Ranch south of Hayden.

Since the discovery the Division of Wildlife has started killing elk and deer to eradicate the disease and find out if more animals are infected.

Three additional deer have tested positive for CWD in that effort.

Conway said Sen. Allard will not let the issue be ignored in Washington, D.C.

"Sen. Allard doesn't want to be an alarmist but if we don't do something immediately this disease could forever change the wildlife characteristics of Colorado," he said.

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