Colorado's deer and elk populations have been under serious threat from a contagious, fatal neurological disease known as Chronic Wasting Disease for decades. However, the epidemic has hit a critical point, as it is estimated that half of the state's deer population and one-third of the elk population is infected with the 100 percent fatal disease. The disease is also spreading in deer, elk, moose, reindeer and other cervid populations in 24 other states and four Canadian provinces.
To finally make some headway in controlling the spread, Sen. Michael Bennet has joined Sen. John Barasso, R-WY, and Sen. Doug Jones, D-AL, to introduce a bipartisan bill authorizing deep study of the disease to find ways to control its spread and give state and local officials the information they need to combat it.
The disease has been studied by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials since it first appeared in captive mule deer populations in research facilities near Fort Collins. The "prion disease" is part of the same class of diseases that include Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, more commonly known as "Mad Cow Disease."
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