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Publish Date: 8/29/2005

Colorado study finds wasting disease hits bucks more than does


FORT COLLINS ó A study by state biologists shows that chronic wasting disease in northern Colorado strikes male deer at least twice as often as females in the same age groups.

The reason may be that males roam between herds looking for mates, said state Division of Wildlife veterinarian Mike Miller, who co-authored the study.

The study, published this month in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, found bucks between 3 and 7 years old were 2.4 times more likely to be infected than does of the same age. Bucks 5 to 7 years old were 3.8 times more likely to be infected than does of the same age.

The disease appeared to peak in 5- to 6-year-old bucks and then sharply decline, an indication that the disease is fatal, Miller said.

Chronic wasting disease, a brain ailment that strikes deer and elk, is in the same family as mad cow disease. Officials say there is no evidence it can affect humans but they advise against eating meat from infected animals.

Miller runs the wildlife divisionís Fort Collins Foothills Research Facility and has studied the disease since the early 1980s.

He said the wildlife division has seven years of data on chronic wasting disease, more than any other agency, but he cautioned thatís a small span in research terms.

ďItís really like walking into a mystery movie thatís been going for a while ... and youíre just about to the point of identifying some of the major characters,Ē he said.

Miller said it will take two or three years to determine whether the division has been effective in managing the disease by shooting deer in areas where the disease is prevalent.

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