Colorado Parks and Wildlife addressing Chronic Wasting Disease with response plan

CPW Photo

RBC | 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 CPW wildlife managers are tackling this year is Chronic Wasting Disease (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 like weight loss, stumbling and listlessness. Although there has been no evidence that CWD has yet been transmitted to humans, the Center for Disease Control, along with CPW, recommend that 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 Colorado Parks and Wildlife 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 that CPW wildlife managers can implement to lower CWD prevalence. The plan’s recommendations are intended to allow for a localized management approach best suited for individual herds that is in coordination 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 23-28 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 stated in 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 on CWD and hunting in Colorado, see page 12 of the 2019 Big Game Brochure and visit cpw.state.co.us/cwd.

Special to the Herald Times

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