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Hunting season on target

Limited elk season opened this weekend and, despite fears of what impact this year’s discovery of chronic wasting disease might have on the area, the hunters have returned to Northwest Colorado.

Black Mountain, an area of solitude a week ago, was littered with hunting campgrounds about every 50 yards Saturday.

Cathy Vanatta, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said she anticipated 300 hunters a day in the office this week.

“It was already busy this week,” she said Friday. “We’re already seeing higher numbers than we did last year. From what we’re hearing, license purchases are up 33 percent this year.”

Terry Ivie, a Division of Wildlife employee working the chronic wasting disease sampling site at the Craig Warehouse on north Yampa Avenue, said about 170 animal heads were dropped off for sample removal Sunday.

Ivie said the samples come in spurts, but said Division of Wildlife employees and volunteers have been able to keep up so far.

The sampling site, where brain stems are removed from animals for shipment to Colorado State University where they are tested for CWD, is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the different hunting seasons and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in between seasons.

Separate limited elk season runs through Wednesday. Combined deer and elk seasons run Oct. 19-25, Nov. 2-8 and Nov. 9-13.

Steve Stanford, a meat cutter at Mountain Meat & Sausage in Craig, said business has been good since the season opened.

Stanford said they have actually been busier this year than last.

As a precaution against CWD, Mountain Meat & Sausage set up a separate facility for wild game processing this fall.

Concerns about chronic wasting disease, which is fatal to deer and elk, arose last spring when 10 wild mule deer were discovered with it in and around an elk ranch south of Hayden.

So far this season one elk, found north of Hayden, has tested positive for the disease.

The discovery in the deer last spring and elk this fall was the first time the disease has been discovered in either animal on Colorado’s Western Slope.

In an effort to gauge the extent of the disease and reassure hunters, the Colorado DOW has set up sampling sites throughout the state and in Craig and Steamboat Springs.

At these sites the necessary tissue can be removed from an animals brain before it is shipped to a laboratory at Colorado State University for testing.

The sample removal and tests cost $17. If an animal tests positive, the Division of Wildlife calls the hunter who killed the animal.

Testing results can also be found at http://www.wildlife.state.co.us.

For more information about hunting in Moffat County, people can call the Craig Chamber of Commerce at 824-5689.

For more information about chronic wasting disease sample removal at the Craig Warehouse, people can call the site at 824-2502.


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