Chronic Wasting Disease rates low

Michelle Balleck

The likelihood of shooting an animal with chronic wasting disease is rare, but hunters still should be on the lookout, said Kathi Green, Colorado Division of Wildlife disease management coordinator.

“The bottom line is, we advise hunters to never kill animals that don’t look healthy,” she said.

However, animals are often “preclinical,” or not symptomatic. So spotting a diseased animal is difficult.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease, which causes the “the animals to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and die,” reads the DOW Web site.

In recent years, Green said, Northwest Colorado testing centers have received plenty of testing samples. This season, Gunnison is the only mandatory testing site. The Rangely site no is longer accepting testing submissions.

Hunters who turn in game heads, at a charge of $15 per head, are asked for their testing tags, the date killed, game management unit in which the animal was killed and for hunters to show exactly where the animal was killed on a map.

Biologists use lymph nodes or the brain stems to test for CWD, so hunters should cut the heads below the first vertebra. Biologists cannot test brain tissue, and they ask hunters not to drop off bags of it at the sites.

The test is 98 percent accurate, Green said. On the Western Slope, deer and elk have a disease rate of less than one percent.

Although the disease is not transmittable to humans, the DOW offers the following precautions for handling infected animals:

n Wear rubber gloves when field dressing and processing animals;

n Bone out the meat from your animal;

n Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues, and wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field-dressing;

n Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.

n Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, pancreas and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Typical field dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.

n Do not consume meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.

n Knives, saws and cutting table surfaces can be disinfected by soaking in a solution of 50 percent unscented household bleach and 50 percent water for an hour. Afterward, allow them to air dry.

Hunters who find an animal that looks very sick are asked to call the Steamboat Springs center at (970) 870-2197 or the Meeker site at (970) 878-6090.

For more information, visit the DOW Web site at n

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