CWD Testing Underway for 2004 Hunting Seasons

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Colorado biologists and researchers continue to monitor the occurrence and distribution of chronic wasting disease, or CWD, the fatal disease that afflicts deer and elk in parts of the state.

As it has since 2002, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) is offering CWD testing during the 2004 hunting seasons in its ongoing efforts to gather more data about the neurological disorder. By testing statewide, researchers hope to get a better idea of where the disease occurs in Colorado.

Hunters have access this year to 26 different CWD submission sites at DOW offices. Hunters may also submit heads through participating veterinarians in 30 locations around the state. For a complete list of submission sites, addresses, and hours of operation, click on the chronic wasting disease page at the DOW Web site at http://wildlife.state.co.us/CWD/index.asp.

Moose testing is mandatory again this year, and the test is free if hunters take the head to a DOW submission site. All moose heads must be submitted within five days of harvest. CWD has never been found in a wild moose.

All deer and elk testing is voluntary and costs $15 per animal. Hunters submitting heads through veterinarians will pay $22, which includes costs to ship the samples for testing, and a fee for the veterinarian to remove the samples. In an effort to obtain more samples in certain parts of the state, testing is free when heads are submitted at DOW submission sites for animals from the following units: Deer from units 39, 46, 51, 104, 391, and 461 in northeastern Colorado; game management units (GMUs) 52, 60, 61, 62, 70, 71, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 421, 521, 711, 751, 771 in southwestern Colorado; and deer and elk from GMUs 59, 110, 118, 123, 511, 512, and 591 in southeastern Colorado.

Every deer, elk, and moose license includes a detachable tag labeled "CWD Head Testing Tag." The tag includes the hunting license number and hunter identification and has a bar code that can be scanned to speed up head processing. Hunters should bring this tag with the head, along with species information, harvest GMU and map location and harvest date.

Hunters should avoid shooting the animal in the head; and remove the head from the carcass 2 to 4 inches below the point where the neck joins the skull (below the first vertebrae). The CWD test is conducted on lymph nodes in the throat and also in brain stems for moose. Testing cannot be conducted on the brain itself. Heads should be kept cool and away from flies and scavengers to protect the tissues necessary for testing, and submitted as soon as possible (within five days is best).

Northeastern Colorado hunters are reminded that carcass transportation restrictions remain in place, including restrictions on movement of heads to submission sites for testing. Hunters who kill deer or elk in GMUs 19, 20, 29, 38, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 191, or 951 must submit the heads at a DOW site or veterinarian within that group of units, or at the Denver or Brush office. For more information about these transportation restrictions and other testing information, see Page 11 of the Big Game Season brochure.

Non-resident hunters should check with their home state's wildlife agency to determine if there are carcass importation restrictions in those states. Many states require hunters to bone out or process all deer and elk meat being returned to their states from states with CWD.

The Colorado Sate University (CSU) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories conduct the testing for DOW. DOW's goal is to provide test results to hunters within five to seven working days during off-peak times and within 10 to 14 working days during peak times, early and late seasons. Moose testing, however, takes longer and hunters should plan on waiting seven to 10 days after the sample reaches CSU. Hunters whose results aren't available more than three weeks after submission should call the nearest DOW office for assistance.

Test results can be obtained by calling 1-800-434-0274. This number is available 24 hours a day, and hunters can get results for up to three heads in each call by keying in the head submission numbers on their CWD testing receipt. Results are also available 24 hours a day through the DOW Web site by clicking on the CWD Test Results option.