Even though most hunters and landowners are not "seeing" infected deer in areas with high CWD prevalence, the films demonstrate how CWD is certainly present, explains why it is a major concern, and how stakeholder cooperation is the key to managing the disease.
Two-part documentary film Part 1 - Ride along with Josh Melby, CPW District Wildlife Manager, as he speaks on the importance of working with private landowners to address CWD. Hear from landowners about their personal experiences with CWD on their properties.
Part 2 - Listen to wildlife professionals from Colorado and Wyoming speak to what we’ve learned about CWD and the importance of teamwork to manage the disease.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) developed these films in partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and multiple private conservation organizations.
About CWD CWD is a prion disease that affects deer, elk and moose. The disease generally lasts 2 - 3 years in deer and is always fatal. CWD is primarily spread from infected animals coming into contact with uninfected animals, and concentrations of animals in small areas increases transmission.
Visit CWD-Info.org for more information about CWD in North America. This info was attached to my CPW E-News. Can be found there on the CPW website.
The CPW is well aware that large-scale culling operations are a mistake. They don't even bring that option up in their videos. The CPW learned that culling operations didn't work over 40 years ago when CWD prions were first introduced into Colorado soil. The CPW can also not say that CWD is 100% lethal and how many years before every deer that contracts the disease dies. The CPW and WG&F also have no answers to whether CWD resistance is present in deer and if in fact there is a possibility of resistance alleles. Hunters may actually be killing some of the best genetics in the herd by harvesting older age class bucks that have survived years of CWD prions being present in Colorado and Wyoming soils.
There also is no mention by the CPW that predators do a heck of a good job of SELECTIVELY killing weak and sick CWD deer. Hunters can not selectively harvest CWD positive deer because most CWD deer show absolutely no symptoms.
The research studies conducted in the Estes Valley using tonsil immunohistochemistry (IHC) concluded that large-scale culling of only CWD positive deer didn't significantly impact does and there was only a slight decline in bucks. They were actually testing 1/2 of the herd and killing all positive deer for a number of years. Culling that many positive deer had very little impact on the prevalence of CWD positive deer since the same CWD prions exist in the soil for years and years.
Here is an interesting article you may want to read: https://bioone.org/journals/journal-of-wildlife-diseases/volume-54/issue-3/2018-01-015/EVALUATION-OF-A-TEST-AND-CULL-STRATEGY-FOR-REDUCING-PREVALENCE/10.7589/2018-01-015.full
Humans must kill a boat-load of deer in order to kill the few CWD positive sick animals that exist. As I mentioned above, culling or targeting older age class bucks is fruitless when prions will exist in soils for years upon years after culling projects. Read the Estes Park study in my post above and it pretty much says the same exact thing in their conclusions. Yep, predators are our best friend. Do we need wolves.....heck no I'm not saying that. The predators we currently have are highly efficient CWD killers!
Here’s how it works, the biologist says CWD is going to kill all of your deer so we need to kill them first to stop the spread. You ask, “does a concentrated effort to kill all the deer work?” Answer, NO, it continues to spread.
Colorado, Alberta and Saskatchewan are some of the best places for mule deer in North America. They have had CWD for a very long time. Quit trying to wipe them out, manage the deer like you normally would, end of story.
Doing nothing works as good or better than doing something. For once the best solution is something government beauracracies are good at. I hope they give in and just let it be.
It's actually a pretty simple predator-prey concept. If CWD % in deer increases there is a pretty decent chance that predators will be healthy and potentially predator #'s will also increase. If CWD remains low there is less weak/sick deer to fill predator bellies. The last time I checked there were plenty of coyotes, lions, and bears to feed on weak and sick deer in Colorado and Wyoming!
Also, "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection" come to mind.....gradual genetic change occurs over time to a group of living things. It describes the mechanism of natural selection by explaining how the best-adapted individuals are better suited to their environment. As a result, these individuals are more likely to survive and pass on their genes. Is there CWD resistant alleles that are passed on to those deer that remain fit and survive from 40 years of prions being in Colo soil? Does the CPW know for a fact they aren't complicating things and preventing CWD resistance by targeting mature bucks that likely carry the very best genetic material in deer herds? If CWD is so lethal to older age class bucks would there currently be mature bucks left in deer herds where prions have existed for 40+ years?
Pretty basic and common sense ecology if you ask me!
Opening up private land access for hunters through Walk-in and HMA programs set up in Wyoming are a great start in the right direction to harvest concentrated animals and scatter big game across the landscape. I think the walk-in programs that have been started in Eastern Colorado and hopefully this program spreads to the Front Range and Western Colorado.
If the CPW and WG&F really want to put their CWD grant money to work, how about working in cooperation with landowners to open up more private land to hunting that will immediately impact CWD prevalence rates by spreading concentrated animals?