CWD sampling site coming to Craig

Facilities for hunters to be set up in Moffat County and Steamboat Springs

Northwest Colorado will have two chronic wasting disease sampling stations this fall, according to a spokesperson for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

While the hopes of many local business owners and officials of getting a testing lab in the area will not be fulfilled, a sampling station, in which hunters can take the heads of deer and elk to get a brain sample removed and sent away for testing, will be set up in Craig and Steamboat Springs.

The testing will be conducted at Colorado State University, said Todd Malmsbury, of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

"Hunters will be able to have their animals tested," he said. "There will be sites where heads or samples will be collected throughout Colorado and two of those facilities will be in Steamboat Springs and Craig."

Division of Wildlife personnel and volunteers working with the DOW will run the sampling stations, he said.

"The goal is for the results to be available in two weeks," he said.

Results will be posted on the Internet for out-of-state hunters, he said.

A hunter would be called directly by the DOW if his or her animal tests positive, he said.

While he did not yet know an exact price of the test, Malmsbury said it would cost less than $20.

The location of where the sampling station will be has not been announced, but Malmsbury said that information would be available soon.

Since the discovery of chronic wasting disease at the Motherwell Ranch south of Hayden last spring, local officials and merchants have expressed concern about what impact the discovery might have on the number of out-of-state hunters that come to Northwest Colorado to hunt this season.

A locally formed chronic wasting disease committee decided the best way to minimize the impact of the discovery might be to set up a chronic wasting disease testing facility in the area so hunters could get their animals tested before they return home with their meat.

While there is no proof of chronic wasting disease infecting humans, the fact remains that it is a relative of mad cow disease found in cattle, which has been proven to infect humans.

Because of the stigma that accompanies chronic wasting disease, officials were afraid that the local economy, which relies heavily on revenue generated from out-of-state hunter visits, would lag this year because hunters would be afraid to come to the area.

The DOW investigated the possibility of setting up a lab in Craig, and the local committee even considered setting one up using local dollars.

But no feasible options were found.

At a local sampling station, hunters would be able to take the heads of the animals they kill to have the samples removed by people trained to do so.

Many local outfitters have taken a class on how to remove the sample in the field.

If a hunter kills an animal and has the sample removed by an outfitter certified to do so, he or she can simply take the sample to the sampling station and the sample would be sent to CSU for testing.

But officials have said that samples cannot be taken except by those certified to do so.

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