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From: TSS ()
Subject: Two elk test positive for wasting disease
Date: September 13, 2005 at 6:08 pm PST

Publish Date: 9/12/2005

Two elk test positive for wasting disease

David Young
Daily Record Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Agriculture completed its extermination and analysis of 296 elk for chronic wasting disease at Ron Walker Ranch on Saturday in Penrose.
Out of 296 elk in the herd, it was determined two elk suffered from CWD, a fatal neurological disease found in elk and deer. The disease attacks the brain of infected animals, causing erratic behavior, loss of bodily functions, emaciation and death.

The remaining 294 elk were disposed of in Phantom Landfill, north of Florence, with the Fremont County Commissioner’s approval.

According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife Web site, there is no known connection between human health issues and CWD, but much is still unknown about the disease, such as how it originates and spreads.

The elk’s heads, suspected of infection, along with tissue samples, were sent to the Diagnostics Laboratory at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where they were tested for the disease. The two elk confirmed of being infected with CWD also were transported to Fort Collins.

“This whole process evolved quickly,” Commissioner Mike Stiehl said, who has a degree in biology specializing in wildlife and has worked for the DOW doing research. “The plan changed a lot. Originally, they were just going to throw (the elk) in the dump.”

The commissioners made it clear at the Sept. 1 meeting they were against putting positively tested CWD elk in the landfill.

“It is bad public policy to allow positively tested animals into the landfill,” Stiehl said, who was concerned with the uncertainties with the disease and the possibility of exposure to groundwater in a landfill.

Walker was unable to be reached for comment by press time.


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