Department of Ag monitoring Motherwell Ranch elk


Despite the ongoing effort by Division of Wildlife officials to depopulate wild elk and deer in the Motherwell Ranch area south of Hayden, the domestic elk within the ranch have been left alone.

"Right now the state is still in discussion with the landowner," said Linh Truong, spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "Because the disease has never been detected in elk killed at the ranch, the state has no jurisdiction to go in and kill the animals."

Three weeks ago two wild mule deer within the fences of Motherwell Ranch were discovered to be infected with chronic wasting disease.

The DOW took action immediately, killing and testing more than 300 wild deer within a five-mile radius of the ranch the following week.

From those 300 killed, two more deer tested positive.

That discovery spurred the department to go back in and take more samples.

Thus far one more deer has tested positive, raising the total to five.

While eradication of wild animals falls under the jurisdiction of the DOW, the killing of domestic animals is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture.

State agriculture officials have put a quarantine notice on the ranch, prohibiting the movement of the elk, but do not yet have the authority to begin eradication.

The department is still seeking funds from the United States Department of Agriculture to reimburse the rancher if it goes in and kills the 100 domestic elk, Truong said.

Truong said each animal could be appraised at a maximum of $3,000.

Ninety percent of those funds will come from the USDA and the other 10 percent from the state department.

"Hopefully we'll have this resolved soon," she said. "But right now there's no time line on when we will do it."

Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos, who serves on the state of Colorado Wildlife Commission, said she hoped the domestic elk situation would be solved by now.

"Hopefully they can get this resolved so we can move on," she said.

"It's difficult to do if we keep delaying, but we do need to protect the private property rights of the ranch owner."

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