Colorado Parks & Wildlife addressing chronic wasting disease with CWD response plan |

Colorado Parks & Wildlife addressing chronic wasting disease with CWD response plan

Craig Press Staff
Mule deer bucks graze on a snow covered lawn in Craig.
Sasha Nelson/staff

The 2019 Colorado Big Game Brochure is out, and there are plenty of regulation changes and new information for hunters to read up on in advance of the big game draw. One of the big challenges Colorado Parks & Wildlife managers are tackling this year is chronic wasting disease, also known as CWD.

The topic is gaining attention nationwide, as 26 states have now reported CWD-infected animals. CWD is a prion disease that affects ungulates such as deer, elk, and moose. The disease is always fatal, and infected animals can develop symptoms such as weight loss, stumbling, and listlessness. Though there has been no evidence so far that CWD has been transmitted to humans, the Centers for Disease Control, along with CPW, recommend hunters not eat the meat of a CWD-infected animal.

CPW is addressing the problem head-on in Colorado. At its Jan. 20 meeting, the commission unanimously approved the Colorado Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan. It was the culmination of a year-long effort by the CWD Advisory Group to explore the history of CWD, the status of CWD infection in Colorado’s herds, and the best available tactics for lowering CWD prevalence.

The plan provides a suite of tactics CPW wildlife managers can implement to lower CWD prevalence. The plan’s recommendations are intended to allow for a localized management approach best suited to individual herds while coordinating with herd management plans. Some of these tactics include changing the buck-to-doe ratio, increasing harvest, and issuing more late-season tags for specific GMUs. For a complete list of tactics, see pages 23 through 28 of the CWD Response Plan.

There is no overnight fix for CWD.

This is a 15-year plan that will use rotating mandatory tests on hunter-harvested bucks to give a complete picture of Colorado’s CWD prevalence every five years. As CWD Advisory Group member and director of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, Matt Dunfee said during his presentation to the CPW Commission: “This is a disease you measure in decades, not years. Without action, it will only increase in prevalence and distribution.”

For more information about CWD and hunting in Colorado, see page 12 of the 2019 Big Game Brochure and visit