February 22, 2002 Associated PressHunters and state biologists will kill thousands of deer in three northern Colorado herds under a plan approved by wildlife officials to contain chronic wasting disease.
The plan would thin herds by killing about 4,500 deer out of nearly 19,000 over the next two to five years. It was approved unanimously Thursday by Colorado wildlife commissioners.
Some mountain homeowners and animal-welfare activists had criticized the plan as too excessive and asked for more research on chronic wasting disease.
They worried that mountain lions, with fewer deer to stalk, would turn to pets and livestock. Others suggested that chronic wasting disease may be a natural check on population.
Some opponents said officials should kill only sick deer that are identified through a tonsil test.
Wildlife division veterinarian Mike Miller said tonsil testing is reliable but impractical on a large scale, because animals must be anesthetized and then held until test results are known, or released and somehow relocated if a test is positive.
Rick Kahn, wildlife management supervisor of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said if officials did nothing, the disease would continue to spread.
Earlier this week, South Dakota officials acknowledged their first case of wasting disease in a wild deer.