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Taking of CWD samples delayed

With arrival of water testing equipment, specimen collection could begin today

Josh Nichols

Tissue samples are not being removed from the heads of deer and elk taken to the chronic wasting disease sampling site set up in Craig, but the temporary site is still in business, officials say.

Due to scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency, lab workers have not been allowed to remove the samples on site.

Instead animal heads are kept frozen and shipped to the Colorado State

University testing site in Fort Collins where the samples are removed and tested.

“There’s a permit required for the actual discharge of the water we use during the process,” said Todd Malmsbury, spokesperson for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The EPA was concerned about the water used to wash the facilities where the samples are removed, he said.

Terry Ivie, a technician with the Colorado Division of Wildlife working at the site in Craig, said shipping the entire heads to Fort Collins has worked fine so far.

About 70 animal heads have been submitted since the Craig site opened on the first day of archery season Aug. 31, Ivie said.

But the site should be removing samples within the next few days, he said.

Water testing equipment, including a PH meter, which tests the acidity of water, has just arrived, Ivie said.

Mike Sirochman, another lab technician working at the site, said Thursday that they hoped to be removing samples by today.

Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said the city had to issue a pretreatment permit to the DOW so they could have the site in Craig, which it did.

“The last we heard was there were some concerns from the EPA about the possibility of the prions getting into the water supply,” Ferree said.

Prions are the infectious agent known to cause chronic wasting disease in deer and elk.

The EPA will take samples and test the PH content of the water, the city manager said.

“They’re good to go as far as we’re concerned,” Ferree said of the DOW.

While shipping the entire heads to Fort Collins has been sufficient thus far, Malmsbury said, it is important that samples can be removed from the heads on site before the combined deer and elk rifle season, which starts Nov. 2.

“Right now the quantity is still low,” he said. “Five weeks from now it could be a problem when the number submitted increases.”


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