Four Colorado Division of Wildlife officials will be in Craig Monday night to discuss the department's plans for addressing chronic wasting disease isses in the coming months.
Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos will host the public meeting, which will be at 7 p.m. at the Shadow Mountain Club House on Moffat County Road 7. Raftopoulos is required as a member of the Colorado Wildlife Commission to host two public meetings annually.
Raftopoulos said she saw the meeting as an opportunity to invite state officials to discuss the CWD situation directly with local residents.
"This meeting is an opportunity for area residents to discuss wildlife issues and ask questions about the Colorado Wildlife Commission and the Division of Wildlife," Raftopoulos said. "We will also discuss chronic wasting disease because of the importance of this issue to residents of northwestern Colorado."
Division of Wildlife officials scheduled to be at the meeting include Russell George, director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Dan Prenzlow, DOW area manager in Meeker, Susan Werner, DOW area manager in Steamboat Springs, and Ron Velarde, the west regional manager for the DOW.
"I thought this was a good opportunity to talk about chronic wasting disease and what is planned for the future," Raftopoulos said. "It's just an open agenda to hear public input. They will have all the latest information on what is being done to deal with disease in this area."
Chronic wasting disease was discovered last month in three wild mule deer in the Motherwell Elk Ranch south of Hayden.
After the discovery, DOW officials killed approximately 900 wild deer and elk within a five-mile radius of the ranch in an effort to stop further spread of the disease.
Of those killed, six deer have tested positive for CWD while no elk have tested positive.
Todd Malmsbury, spokesperson for the DOW, said officials would discuss their plans for the upcoming hunting season with local residents.
A tentative plan, Malmsbury said, will be to test animals killed in the vicinity of Motherwell Ranch next fall.
"We will ask and strongly urge hunters who harvest animals in the Motherwell ranch area to submit the heads for testing," he said.
Malmsbury said there is a possibility additional permits will be offered in the Motherwell Ranch area next year for testing purposes.
Those who are issued the additional permits, he said, would be required to submit the heads for testing.
Malmsbury stressed that those actions would just be taken in the Motherwell Ranch area, not in all of Northwest Colorado.
He said testing would be optional in other areas where the disease has not been discovered.
Recently local business owners and elected officials have expressed what they believe is a need for a testing lab in Northwest Colorado this fall.
"We are working as hard as we can to increase our ability to test animals this season," Malmsbury said. "We certainly will be able to test more animals more quickly than we did last season. But people should not expect that we will be able to test every animal in Northwest Colorado."
If hunters who kill an animal outside of an infection area want the head tested for CWD, there will be an opportunity to do so.
Malmsbury said a test would cost approximately $25.
"We will provide an opportunity for hunters to test their animals," he said.
"But I'm not going to predict how quick of a turn around we can have on getting the test results back."