DOW extends hours to test game for chronic wasting disease
GLENWOOD SPRINGS With big-game hunting season about to start in earnest, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is encouraging hunters to submit deer or elk samples to test for chronic wasting disease, or CWD, at several locations throughout the state, including Glenwood Springs.CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects the brain in deer, elk and moose, and causes the animals to lose weight and display abnormal behaviors and coordination. And while no link between the disease and human health problems has been established by either the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver, the information is helpful to the DOW.The most important reason for the test is that the DOW is trying to track the disease, said division spokesman Randy Hampton. In order to do that in a scientific way, we need the samples and are appreciative of the hunters that help out with that.The DOW offers testing to hunters throughout the state. While moose testing is mandatory this year as it has been in the past, deer and elk testing is voluntary.Moose testing is free if the moose head is taken to a DOW submission site, however deer and elk tests are $15 per animal.Moose must be submitted within five days of harvest; 10 to 15 working days are required for results. Deer and elk heads may be taken to a DOW submission site during business hours.For sportsmen, it is more for piece of mind, Hampton said. They want to know that the animal is healthy before they consume it.In addition to normal weekday hours, many DOW offices will be open Columbus Day, Veterans Day and open on Saturdays during the upcoming rifle seasons for deer and elk. Some locations will also be open on Sundays or offer on-call phone numbers for hunters who wish to drop off samples for testing on Sundays.According to DOW spokesman Tyler Baskfield, while the division prefers that hunters participate in testing the animals, the disease is not that prevalent in Colorado. Baskfield said the disease is more common in deer than in elk and moose, but each species has been known to carry it.According to the DOW, the highest CWD infection rate for elk is found in eight game management units west of Fort Collins, extending toward Steamboat Springs. Statistics indicate about 5 percent of the elk population in that area is infected. The infection rate for a large part of the northwest region is 1 to 5 percent, and less than 1 percent of most of Colorados elk populations are infected. The infection rate in the White River National Forest surrounding Glenwood Springs falls in the range of 1 to 5 percent.Every deer and elk license includes a detachable CWD Head Testing Tag for hunters who want to participate. The tag includes a bar code that can be scanned to speed up processing. Hunters are required to provide detailed information about when and where the animal was harvested.The DOWs goal is to provide test results within 10 to 14 working days. Hunters who have not received results more than three weeks after submission should call the nearest DOW office for assistance.Results are also available 24 hours a day through the CWD web page on the DOW website by clicking on the CWD test results option at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/BigGame/CWD. Or, call the 24-hour number at 1-800-434-0274.The DOW notes that out-of-state hunters should check with their home states wildlife agency to determine if there are special carcass-importing restrictions. Many states require hunters to bone out or process all deer and elk meat being returned to their home state from states where chronic wasting disease exists.The rifle season for moose began Oct. 1 and concludes Oct. 9. The first rifle season for elk runs Oct. 11-15, followed by deer/elk rifle seasons on Oct. 18-26, Nov. 1-7 and Nov. email@example.com
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