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From: TSS (
Subject: Wasting disease (CWD) found in 2nd elk
Date: January 25, 2005 at 9:13 am PST

Wasting disease found in 2nd elk

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


The Daily Sentinel

MEEKER — One of 41 elk from the Blue Sky elk ranch east of Meeker recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The neurological disease attacks the brains of infected animals, causes them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions and die. At this time, there is no evidence that CWD is a risk to human health, but it is a relative of mad cow disease and scrapie, which infects sheep.

The six-year-old cow elk died in June 2004. But Colorado Agriculture Department spokeswoman Linh Truong said the sample wasn’t submitted until the agency’s scheduled August testing.

A quarantine was placed on the herd of 40 animals after the positive test result, she said.

Ranch owner Shane Phelan agreed to participate in a voluntary indemnification program with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where each animal was given an appraised value. Phelan could not be reached for comment Monday.

In December, the herd was transported to Colorado State University in Fort Collins to be killed and tested for CWD. All 40 tested negative, Truong said. There is no live test for the disease, so any suspect animals are killed to be tested.

“This process was much longer than we expected, but we’re glad that everything progressed smoothly with all of the parties involved,” said state veterinarian Wayne Cunningham. “As with all cases involving indemnity, the owner also agrees to not raise elk on that location for five years.”

“We don’t think there’s any chance it spread outside the herd because all of them were born at the ranch,” Truong said.

Meanwhile, a second captive bull elk recently tested positive for CWD at the Motherwell Ranch, south of Hayden and northeast of Meeker.

In 2002, state wildlife officers killed 300 deer within five miles of the Motherwell Ranch, after two deer shot inside a hunting pen tested positive for the fatal brain ailment. Ten wild deer from the surrounding area also tested positive. It was the first time the disease was found west of the Continental Divide.

The 1,800-acre ranch, owned by Las Vegas contractor Wes Adams, has been under quarantine since 2002, when the first bull elk tested positive. A management plan to determine how many, if any, of the more than 200 captive elk at the ranch need to be killed is still in the works, said Truong.

“We’re getting input from the Division of Wildlife, CSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” she said. “Once we’re done and everyone’s agreed to it, that will determine how the ranch will be treated for the next five years.”

Truong said Adams has cooperated with officials.

In Colorado, CWD testing has been required of all domestic elk deaths since 1998. Colorado was the first state to require mandatory surveillance of domestic elk herds for CWD. In addition, Colorado’s 97 licensed elk ranches have been required to identify and inventory all domestic elk since July 1994.

Last year’s big game hunting season found CWD in only 135 animals (112 mule deer, three white-tailed deer and 20 elk) out of 12,460 heads voluntarily submitted for testing, according to the DOW’s Web site. In 2003, 15,700 deer, elk and moose heads were submitted.

Mike McKibbin can be reached via e-mail at;COXnetJSessionID=B22yoUFdfkgxQE4tUAtM3DkJyYli3D4I1Yu681qT2jykddOoQWps!-1020779549?urac=n&urvf=11066732029850.2175541727947221


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