Chronic Wasting Disease Management
The Colorado Park and Wildlife’s disease management efforts are focused on:
Preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease beyond historically infected areas.
Reducing chronic wasting disease prevalence within infected areas by removing deer and elk from some affected herds.
Enforcing illegal feeding regulations and transport laws restricting the movement of deer, elk and moose from infected areas or into the state.
Continuing research in conjunction with other agencies and states to further knowledge to manage affected deer, elk and moose herds.
Public Health Issues
Disease in humans resulting from CWD exposure has not been reported to date. However, there may be a small risk from eating meat from infected animals. Consequently, public health officials recommend that people avoid exposure to CWD-infected animals.
Please see the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website for the most current recommendations on carcass testing and other preventive measures.
To minimize exposure to CWD and other diseases of potential concern, CPW and state public health officials advise hunters not to shoot, handle or consume any deer, elk or moose that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick. When field-dressing game, wear rubber gloves and minimize the use of a bone saw to cut through the brain or spinal cord (backbone). Minimize contact with brain or spinal cord tissues, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes. Always wash hands and utensils thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.
What Portions of Deer, Elk and Moose Should be Consumed?
Strong evidence suggests that abnormal proteins, called prions, cause chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. Research indicates that the prions naturally accumulate in certain parts of infected animals -- the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, pancreas and spleen - relatively early in the course of disease, well before the animal is visibly ill. However, abnormal prions also can accumulate in a wider variety of tissues and organs, including kidney, lung, heart, and muscle.
Simple Precautions to Avoid CWD Contamination
Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact a Colorado Parks and Wildlife office if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.
Wear rubber gloves when field dressing and processing animals.
Bone out the meat from your animal, and minimize handling of brain and spinal tissues.
Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, pancreas and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
Do not consume meat or organs from animals known to be infected with CWD.
Knives, saws and cutting table surfaces can be disinfected by soaking in a solution of 50 percent unscented household bleach and 50 percent water for an hour. Thoroughly rinse all utensils in water to remove the bleach. Afterward, allow them to air dry.
Help prevent the spread of CWD
One important step all Coloradans can take is to become informed on the importance of not feeding deer and other wildlife. Feeding big game is bad for wildlife and dangerous for people.
This is an extremely important element for preventing the spread of CWD. Feeding wildlife not only creates dependency on humans, but can also help propagate the spread of CWD in these animals.