CWD testing decreases |

CWD testing decreases

As the Colorado Division of Wildlife begins collating data from Colorado’s four major rifle seasons, it’s become clear that chronic wasting disease testing submissions are down yet again.

By last Wednesday, 11,282 deer and elk had been turned in at DOW collection sites. On the same date last year, 14,260 deer and elk had been submitted.

Chronic wasting disease was found in only one new game management unit, and DOW personnel weren’t surprised that the disease had spread there.

Unit 14 is located north of Steamboat Springs. It is surrounded by areas that have been found to contain animals infected with chronic wasting disease.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that causes animals infected with it to become emaciated, behave abnormally and ultimately die.

It has been found in parts of Northeastern Colorado and Southeastern Wyoming for more than two decades.

DOW officials blame the decline in submissions on changes in submission regulations.

“Most of that decline is in Northeastern Colorado, where the submission rate has gone down by more than 60 percent,” said Kathi Green, the DOW’s disease coordinator, during a presentation to the Colorado Wildlife Commission. “We had expected a substantial decline in those units when testing became voluntary.”

The DOW made submissions voluntary in Northeastern Colorado to bring the area into accordance with the rest of the state, where testing has always been voluntary, DOW spokesman Todd Malmsbury said.

Across Colorado, submission rates are down about 9 percent for deer and 4 percent for elk, Green said. Testing submissions have declined for the past two years. If rates continue to decline, the DOW could require hunters to submit animals for testing.

“We still have the option of requiring mandatory testing for deer and elk if we don’t receive the number we need for surveillance,” said Jeff Ver Steeg, the DOW’s wildlife branch manager. “Mandatory testing in some areas and continued use of incentives to encourage testing are among the options we’ll consider before the 2005 big game season,” he said.

Final numbers for chronic wasting disease in 2004 won’t be available until the DOW analyzes its harvest data in February, Malmsbury said.

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