Killing of 200 elk to be completed today;
Animals in North Colo. Destroyed to contain chronic wasting disease

February 19, 2002 Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) by Todd Hartman
State and federal workers began the slaughter of a second captive elk herd Monday, part of a sweeping effort to contain deadly chronic wasting disease.

About 200 animals at Trophy Mountain hunting park in Cowdrey, in north-central Colorado, will be destroyed, their heads tested and their carcasses burned to destroy the mutant protein believed to spark the illness. Agriculture officials set up pens and an incinerator Sunday. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture said the animals would likely be destroyed by the end of today.

Three Trophy Mountain elk turned up positive for chronic wasting disease last year, after hunters submitted heads for sampling. The infections led state officials to quarantine the entire herd and schedule it for slaughter.

Last week, workers finished killing 330 domestic elk at a San Luis Valley ranch where one animal was found with the disease.

The final on-site kill is slated for Stoneham, in northeastern Colorado, within two weeks. There, officials will slaughter more than 900 elk from six infected herds, including two small herds to be trucked in from Fort Morgan and Ault, said Linh Truong, a Department of Agriculture spokeswoman.

In all, about 1,500 elk will be destroyed from nine quarantined ranches. Some are going to a Fort Collins facility for slaughter.

Chronic wasting disease in deer and elk, mad cow disease in cattle, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans all belong to a family of illnesses that attack the brain and central nervous system, destroying healthy tissue.

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