COLORADO — Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy related to mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and is fatal. Its origin is unknown.
Eventually fatal, and with no known treatment options, chronic wasting disease is especially concerning because it also contaminates the soil, where it is endemic. Although originally limited to north-central Colorado and southeast Wyoming, recent outbreaks in other states and expansion in other areas of Colorado have heightened concern about the disease’s spread because it could be a significant mortality factor for elk and deer.
CWD is infectious and contagious. The disease is transmitted by animal-to-animal contact or through contact with a contaminated environment, but the exact mode of transmission is unknown. The dynamics of this disease in elk and deer populations are still not thoroughly understood. Transmission may be influenced by animal numbers, the time infected animals occupy a given space, and the amount of space occupied by infected animals. It may also be related to the density of susceptible hosts. The density of animal populations would likely play a role through faster and greater seeding of the environment with the prion agent and more animal-to-animal contact.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has issued Mandatory Deer CWD Testing in 2019. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing for deer (bucks and does) is free for all rifle season hunters and hunters with a season choice tag who have harvested a deer in the following Game Management Units (GMUs): 29, 38, 39, 46, 51, 59, 69, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 391, 461, 511, 512, 591, 691, 851, 861 and 951.
Voluntary CWD testing is encouraged by hunters who have harvested deer in any GMUs other than those listed above, or harvested any elk or moose (in all GMUs) may also voluntarily submit their animal for testing for a fee of $25 per animal.
Guidelines to Ensure Suitable CWD Samples
Hunters should be prepared to leave the head at a CWD testing center until a sample can be taken and may have to wait up to a day to get their head back.
Avoid shooting the animal in the head as tissues may be destroyed, rendering the animal unsuitable for testing.
Keep heads cool and avoid freezing if possible.
Submit heads as soon as possible (within five days is recommended).
Hunters may remove the antlers/skull cap, but remember to comply with all antler point regulations.
Preparation & Required Animal Parts for Testing
When removing the head, leave 2 to 4 inches of the neck below the lower jawbone and base of the skull.
Whole brains or pieces of brain are not accepted for testing.
Please wrap the exposed brain and skull with cheesecloth or other material to prevent the brain from falling out of the skull.
Lymph nodes are the preferred tissue samples for CWD testing (see CWD Sampling Demonstration video below). Tonsils or brain stem may also be used if lymph nodes are unavailable. Optimally, submit the portion of the head within the box in this photo to have the tissue samples needed for testing.
Local CWD testing locations are:
Monte Vista CWD Service Center, 0722 South Road 1E, 719-587-6900
Salida CWD Service Center, 7405 Hwy. 50, 719-530-5520
Durango CWD Service Center, 151 E. 16th Street, 970-247-0855