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CWD found on elk ranch again


Dec 23, 2000
CWD reported in single bull elk at W. Slope ranch
Site had earlier brush with malady

By Theo Stein

Denver Post Environment Writer

A 4-year-old bull elk has tested positive for chronic wasting disease on a trophy-hunting ranch south of Craig, the first case identified in a captive elk in two years.

State agriculture department officials immediately quarantined the 200 elk on the 1,800-acre Motherwell Ranch in Hamilton while they figure out what to do next.

"But it is the top priority of this agency to put that herd down," spokesman Jim Miller said.

This is the second time that the Motherwell Ranch has come under suspicion of harboring the fatal brain-wasting disease.

Two years ago, 10 wild mule deer trapped behind the Motherwell's fences were found to be infected with the malady, which is related to sheep scrapie and mad cow disease.

The disease is thought to be caused by an abnormally folded protein that makes its victims grow thin and die as it eats holes in their brains.

But since it was wild deer and not captive elk that were infected before, ranch owner Wes Adams refused to let the state depopulate the ranch and test all his elk. He argued that enough elk would be tested after being killed by customers to detect the disease if it infected his animals.

Agriculture officials declined to mount the legal battle to force his hand.

Adams, a Las Vegas contractor, could not be reached for comment Friday.

At the time, the mule deer were the first cases discovered on Colorado's Western Slope. An intense surveillance program during the 2002 hunting season revealed that about 1 percent of the deer and elk north of Interstate 70 were infected with the disease.

Since then the ranch has not had a positive case, Miller said, adding that he believed the ranch had complied with a state law requiring that the brains of all dead elk be submitted for testing.

The new case involved a 4-year-old bull that was killed by other elk at the ranch. Researchers say infected animals often provoke an aggressive response from herdmates.

Veterinarians may never know how the bull got the disease. Researchers believe the abnormal protein thought to cause CWD can be transmitted from animal to animal. But they also think the protein can persist in the environment for years.

"It's not welcome news, but it's something we expected," said Ron Walker, president of the Colorado Elk Breeders Association. "The Motherwell (ranch) was contaminated from the deer. Where else could that bull have gotten it?"

But in 2001, state records show the ranch reported nine elk "missing and assumed dead" - their brains were not tested as required by state law.

"The responsible thing to do was depopulate the herd," said Suzanne O'Neil of the Colorado Wildlife Federation. "But Mr. Adams did not want to do that."

O'Neil said her group will push to make sure the ranch's elk are all tested this time.

Most of the Motherwell stock came from the nearby ranch of Lou Wyman, the "grandfather of the Colorado elk industry." Wyman sold his herd in 1997, the same year CWD was first detected in a captive elk in Saskatchewan.

Agriculture records also show that the Wyman elk ranch suffered dozens of elk deaths in 1995, three years before the Agriculture Department adopted a CWD surveillance program.,1413,36~11799~1911396,00.html


Although the story doesn't mention it, the mule deer that tested positive on the ranch two years ago were part of the wild herd that Adams fenced in when he created the ranch. He fenced in at least 40 mule deer and I don't remember how many wild elk. When the state found out about it, they required him to remove the wild animals (kill them) so he let public hunters in to do it. I do remember that at one time the count of elk that had been killed was over 20.


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 01-24-2004 22:55: Message edited by: Colorado Oak ]</font>
Boy that really makes me want to support them!
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Washington Hunter:
This just shows how little elk ranchers care about wild elk.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I think this only shows how one cares about wild elk. You should not lump all the elk ranchers into the same category as this man.
Thats like Saying that ALL Cattle men SUCK because there was a MAD COW outbreak

That being said, I hoipe they stop the CWD, but as EVERYONE KNOWS It's in the Wild, and NOT because of Game ranchs.
Hey Oscar, how was it spread to Sask., South Dakota, Wisconsin, and other places like that?

I say its the wolves that are at fault...Because that they haven't been around for awhile to take out the weaker of the heard....

Hey Moosie,,all us fat assed welfare cattle farmers are not bad..To stop this "MAD COW" thing,,,I've sent my cattle to "ANGER MAnagement"
Both of them

Is there a chance that these animals could effect the health of the wild population?

Will proper control and management be the leading concern--or will monetary values?

Would a person be willing to loose money for the safety of other animals they do not own?

My thought is unless one is willing to take a substancial loss at some point for the safety of the species, they are in the wrong business. It reminds me of insurance in the respect, as long as they are making money everthing is ok. Anyone who is in the business of this nature is in it to make money. That being said, I find it hard to believe that one could make an ethically, morally, principly sound decision based on this alone.
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Washington Hunter:
Well..good point Elkhunter, but in my opinion anybody who cares about wild elk would not fence elk in like cattle and then sell guaranteed "hunts."<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>



OAK, Unlike others that Like to Post to See their Words on the Screen, I apreciate a good Debate. Good Question, If I new More about it I'd tell you. I could, If you want, Go out on the Internet and Clip a 6 page Article someone wrote to Explain how it happened.

Since you're more in the Know then Me (And I don't care to look it up unless the Answer isn't what I want to hear
) Could you tell me if CWD started in the Wild ? Or was it because A game ranch ?
Moose, I don't think anybody knows where or how CWD actually got started. There are theories but that's it. What they do know is that it is transmitted between animals when they are artificially concentrated, as they would be on an elk farm or when wild elk are fed in the winter.
Are you saying that if they Stopped Feeding Elk in the Winter and shut down ALL elk enclosures, that the World would be DONE with CWD ?~?~?~ Because you clearly stated "What they do know is".

Do you truely Believe that Elk don't get Close in the Wild ?!?!? Cuz...



AND OMG .. LOOK HOW CLOSE THESE 2 ELK ARE !!! And yet not in any sort of Enclosure...




LORD KNOWS that being close Causes the Spread.. Let's hand out PAnphlets on HOW to keep elk from getting close. I think thats what the Fight should be on !!!

Is this supposed to be surprising? Its becoming a recurring theme. Game farms have no business being associated with real hunting.
washington huntress, how many times do i have to say this, Co DOW is responsilbe for it. they lied at first and said they had nothing to do with it which all you suckers fell for, now they admit it and all you suckers don't believe them. i could post more documentation on it but i doubt you would listen anyways.

isn't the media great, why don't they publish all the work being done by elk farmers trying to figure out this disease.

wild elk in a fence x land where sheep with scrapie were on = CWD
The argument to let the elk starve, then they die off, then we don't need as much habitat for them, probably would have less elk die from CWD also.

Its a stupid argument though, let them starve, so they'll be wild. Get real, can you really support that?
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by elkfarmer:

wild elk in a fence x land where sheep with scrapie were on = CWD

elkfarmer, can you explain to me your source for this statement? I've done quite a bit of research on CWD for college and I've never heard this connection. If you know this as fact you're in the wrong field as you'd know more about prion diseases than just about anyone else out there.
when i have had more time i will find the right document for you, first though start with this, this was noted in 2-22-2000, since then though they have admitted it.

CWD was first observed in 1967 in a Colorado Division of Wildlife deer research herd. It may have started there or in the wild deer herds nearby, where animals were captured to stock the research facility. Infected animals may have been released into the wild. Deer that may have been infected were donated to the Denver zoo. Deer from the Denver zoo went to the Toronto zoo and to domestic elk herd(s) in the Dakotas and possibly other states. Although not proven, this seems to be the most likely route of CWD into domestic elk.
CWD typically appears at a very low rate, less than 1% of animals in a herd, unless it has gone undetected for many years. It does not seem to transmit outside of the deer family and has never been seen in humans

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ 01-26-2004 02:00: Message edited by: elkfarmer ]</font>
a little more:

The unit 82 case is a bit more problematic being located close to BAggs Wy over the Continental Divide (albeit a small divide compared to CO). Here, either critters wandered out of the N. Platte valley and over the divide some 60 miles maybe, or the CWD originated at the DOW facilites at Meeker or Kremmling both about 100 miles to the SE or SW or from the Little Snake pens maybe 80 miles or so away. Those distances are no problem over a 20 year wander span. ....and the Co DOW wonders where all this NW Co CWD could have come from? Duh. Still virtually nothing published in the papers or magazines.

PS I hit the DOW with several more "Open Records" requests on the CWD/FtCollins correspondence for the last 10 years. Will let you know the results by the end of the month.
here is more, with some names for you....
there is still more if you want them, let me know

This article goes to show you how friendly our press is with the CO DOW. This reporter is in their pocket...
01.18.03 Finger-pointing about wasting disease escalates
By DAVE BUCHANAN The Daily Sentinel
A 1990 grazing study on the Western Slope by Colorado Division of Wildlife purposely using elk exposed to chronic wasting disease was a mistake, but it's time to move on, DOW officials said Friday.

The study, which included allowing 150 wild elk to graze in pens near Maybell that previously were used by the disease-exposed elk, was a "bad call," said Jeff Ver Steeg, the DOW's terrestrial wildlife section leader.

But published accusations from Delta veterinarian Dick Steele that the experiment was "hidden for the last 12 years" are wrong, state officials said.

"That's totally inaccurate," said Dawn Taylor, communications chief for the state Department of Natural Resources, which has authority over the Division of Wildlife. "It's been a public record since 1996 and was brought up at several meetings held this year on the Western Slope."

The experiment, done to test the effects of grazing elk on winter forage, might be responsible for the presence of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease, on the Western Slope, according to the Colorado Mule Deer Association.

Denny Behrens, executive director of the Mule Deer Association, told the Rocky Mountain News earlier this week that wild elk might have picked up the disease either by grazing in the pens or by coming in contact with diseased elk.

"If you look at the areas where elk migrate, you will find they are in the same areas where deer and elk tested positive for CWD this hunting season," Behrens said.

But Ver Steeg said Behrens' theory is only one of many trying to discern how the disease is spread.

Elk ranchers, who have received much of the blame for spreading the disease by shipping CWD-exposed elk across the state and to other states, have long maintained the Division of Wildlife, through experiments such as the 1990 study by Maybell, is responsible for the presence of CWD in western Colorado.

Jerry Perkins, an elk rancher near Delta, reportedly is seeking a legislative inquiry into the matter. Perkins could not be reached for comment Friday.

But there never was a coverup, insist DOW officials. It's a matter of public record that the experiment near Maybell was discussed during public meetings this past spring when the division was conducting a culling operation on the Motherwell Ranch on the Williams Fork River south of Craig.

"Not only were the exper- iments mentioned, they were specifically brought up, and questions about them were answered to the best of our ability," said Ron Velarde, the DOW's West Region manager in Grand Junction.

He said both DOW Director Russell George and DOW state veterinarian Mike Miller, neither of whom were involved in the 1990 study, talked about what is known about the study.

"Certainly we feel bad about it now, but that's all hindsight," Velarde said. "It's time to move forward and do all we can to fight this disease."

Most of the chronic wasting disease cases found on the Western Slope are clustered along a north-south line west of Craig, with many of those in a triangle bordered by Craig, Maybell and the Axial Basin.