DOW official insists Craig will have CWD lab


One Colorado Division of Wildlife official still insists that Craig will have a chronic wasting disease testing facility this fall courtesy of the state, while a spokesperson of the DOW is hesitant to make the same guarantee.

"There's questions as to what the capacity will be but there is going to be a lab in Craig," said Ron Velarde, the west regional manager for the DOW. "There is going to be a lab in Craig."

But Todd Malmsbury, the spokesperson for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said the plans have not been finalized.

"Even though it's very likely that Craig will have a lab, we won't have our plans finalized for at least another week," Malmsbury said. "We want to have labs on the Western Slope and Craig is at the top of the list to have some sort of facility. We don't have the details of it yet."

There have been ongoing talks by local residents and local officials with DOW representatives about getting a lab in Craig since the discovery of chronic wasting disease was made in 10 wild mule deer last spring in and around the Motherwell Ranch south of Hayden.

Although the disease is fatal in deer and elk, it has not been proven to spread to humans. But scientists have not ruled out the possibility.

Local officials wanted to get a lab in Craig so out-of-state hunters could know if the animals they kill are infected with CWD before they take them home.

Currently tests are conducted at Colorado State University, but locals believe that providing a local test would be quicker and more convenient for out-of-state hunters who come to Northwest Colorado to hunt.

Velarde was insistent in a telephone interview this week that the decision has been made to place a lab in Craig this fall, repeating it several times.

"I don't understand what the confusion is," he said. "There is going to be a lab in Craig."

Malmsbury said the DOW is getting closer in its plans to get a lab in the area, but would not make the same guarantee.

"I'm not contradicting what Ron said but we haven't got the details worked out yet," he said. "We won't have them finalized until next week at the earliest."

If an announcement is made that Craig will have a lab, details will accompany the announcement, Malmsbury said.

"We want to be able to tell people you have to go to this place to have the samples collected and then go to this place for the test," he said. "It would be inappropriate to provide specific information now and then later have to provide new information."

But if portable labs do happen, Craig will likely be a place where they will be established, he said.

"Craig is at the top of the list of where a facility will be set up on the Western Slope," he said. "We're not releasing formal details until all of the parts are finalized."

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