CWD Infected Bull Elk Found in Summit County

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A bull elk killed by a hunter west of Green Mountain Reservoir on Sept. 14 has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

This is the second wild elk found with CWD in western Colorado this hunting season and the first in Summit County.

"We've known that elk migrate over the Continental Divide into Middle Park from the CWD established area and that the disease could spread, but we don't know if this case is related to that movement or not," said Jeff Ver Steeg, the Division of Wildlife's terrestrial wildlife manager.

The hunter who killed the elk has been notified and the Division will refund his license fee.

The Division has tested more than 400 deer for CWD in Middle Park in recent years and has never found the disease.

"As a matter of policy, all unexpected positive cases will be carefully reviewed to verify the information regarding the positive finding," Ver Steeg said. "Until we complete our evaluation of these two western Colorado cases of CWD in elk we won't be making any hard and fast management decisions. Furthermore, the rifle seasons ahead of us offer the opportunity to learn even more about our situation."

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease of deer and elk that has been found in portions of southeastern Wyoming and northeastern Colorado for more than two decades. State and federal health officials have found no connection between CWD and any human illness. But as a precaution, hunters are advised not to eat the meat from any diseased animals.

CWD was found in 10 wild deer in southwestern Routt County earlier this year, the first time the disease had been found in wild deer or elk outside the established area in Colorado.

Hunters may submit their animals for testing at Division of Wildlife offices around the state and at the offices of some veterinarians. For a complete list and for more information about CWD, check the Division's Internet site at www.wildlife.state.co.us or call a Division office.

Testing is voluntary for hunters outside the established area and costs $17. Deer and elk hunters in the established area of northeastern Colorado are required to submit their animals for testing.

To assure testing accuracy, the animal's head should be kept cool so the brain tissue needed for testing is in good condition. Don't allow the head to rest in water and don't put it in a freezer. Samples that have spoiled cannot be accurately tested.