CWD had been all over the news here in Colorado. The Governer is greatly concerned about its potential impact on tourism in the state. Here is the Divison of Wildlife's info on it http://wildlife.state.co.us/CWD/index.asp
Having worked with a couple of the states biologists on this, I have learned that one of the biggest concerns is elk ranching. As a sportsman I have always disagreed with the concept of elk ranching and what it meant to "hunting", but they are also being found to carry CWD to new areas. More information on this can be found at http://www.cws.cnchost.com/gamefarmPS.pdf
Something all hunters need to be concerned with.
I had a couple of articles on this a few months ago. There has been no discoveries of CWD in Washington state so far as we speak, but it is only a matter of time. They have developed a test that can be performed on live deer, without any harm. They have not come up with the same test for elk. They have to be killed in order to test the animal, no live test's for elk as of yet. They say the disease was first discoverd in Nebraska, then spread west from there. If they could come up with a live test I see nothing wrong with elk ranches. Imagine how easy it would be to restock elk in depleated area's if the animals used were in good shape. I don't know how they regulate the breeding. I have read were in states such as Minnesota they have area's that are open to the killing of all dear to try to help limit the spread of CWD. None of it seems to be working.
This is all me on a soap box, so if you don't want my opinion, move on.
I have always disagreed with the concept of elk ranching here in Colorado. It takes something away from hunting to see free ranging "wild" elk separated from domestic elk by nothing but a fence. Most of the elk ranches are located in winter ground where elk end up literally across the fence from each other. One herd is wild, and able to be hunted by anyone with a license during the fall. The other herd is penned up, able to be shot (I cannot call that hunting) by anyone with enough money.
From what I understand elk ranches make there money three different ways.
1. They sell the meat. Same concept as raising cattle, just a different crowd. I like the idea that elk meat is something that should be earned or at least appreciated by the effort somebody put into hunting it
2. They "harvest" the antlers. There is a strong Asian market for elk antler - especially in velvet. This is considered to be an aphrodisiac and is use in other far east "medicines". Typically the animal is not killed for this, but diet is augmented to promote antler growth.
3. Penned elk hunts. I cannot consider a penned hunt of any kind ethical. It is not a hunt - it is a shoot. Elk are too majestic to be relagated to this kind of hunting. I know some who claim it is the only way handicapped people may be able to hunt, well I disagree. There are many opportunites here in Colorado for those with disabilities to hunt and special allowances made for them. I can give examples in neccesary. Once again, diet is typically augmented to promote antler growth.
As for elk ranches being a solution for CWD? Easily 99 percent of the elk in Colorado are CWD free. Colorado still exports elk to other states to create wild herds. They will not need to ever be replenished from a ranch.
A CWD theory - that may be based in fact:
Ever wonder why game ranches are spreading CWD? In some cases it may be because of the animals spreading it among themsleves and moving animals between ranches, but I have another thought. To promote antler growth (primary source of $$ on elk ranches), bulls are given a diet hight in calcium and other substances that are needed to increase antler size. This dies includes ground bone meal from other animals including cattle. I heard of a man getting KJD (the human version of CWD) from plant fertilizer high in bone meal, so it is not too much of a reach.
There is certainly a lot that needs to be learned about this disease, but I am certain that elk ranches are part of the problem, not the solution.
Yes QuietHunter, you are correct, it is your opinion. And I would have to agree with a lot of what you have stated. I guess I remember reading about when horses use to be free roaming in this country also. It is sad to say that animals have to be desroyed to learn if they carry the infection or not. I have some friends that raise buffalo, and these animals will never exist in places they once roamed, if it were not for ranches that raise them. Who knows if the small numbers that do exist in the wild is enough of a gene pool to carry them over for generations? I do not agree with hunting inside an inclosure, I feel this is wrong also. And to mention-"There are many opportunities in Colorado..." well, just to mention one side of the coin, I can't even afford the plane ticket to fly to Colorado, let alone the out of state license fee, a place to stay, ect. ect.. I was told just a short time ago while doing some volunteer work for the National Forest in this surrounding area by a member that is on the game commission for this state that hunters are extremely narrow minded. They will not group together with each other, for example rifle hunters with bow hunters. I personnaly do not like ATV's, for example. They come in and ruin a good hunt after several miles of hiking in. But I do understand that one day I may not be able to go in as far as I do now. And I do consider them a poor mans horse. Another would be that fact that this state would like to raise the lower license fee for elderly people, I disagree with this because they live on a set income. They won't be getting a raise next year when license fee's go up. This just gives us another way of seeing things. I have been to Denver. And I will say this, It is the fastest 'spreading out' city that I have ever been too. Houses as far as the eye can see. Yes, you can see the mountains, but you can also see houses climbing up half-way. I messed up and passed through there during rush hour, hope to never do that again! QH- I do not mean this to come across as a personal attack. I would just hope that the future beyound our great grandchildren's live's could be glimpsed. I am now seeing a boom in the population in this area. There are great area's where I use to hunt, that are now covered with houses. How much farther are you having to travel to get to hunting spots? Seeing a few more houses out there? If not, then consider yourself lucky. The one thing to be sure of, its going to get a lot worse before it gets better. I see CWD getting a lot worse all over. I just wish there were some easy answers, or at least to stop it where it stands so as to prevent the spread. If destroying the elk in existing ranches is part of the answer, then I say yes, it should be done for the good of the rest of the animals. But, again, is there anything that Minnasota or Nebraska is trying that is actually working? Don't know here, littletoes.
Thanks for the note Littletoes.
I agree that hunters can be narrow minded. I guess it comes from the different kinds of enjoyment you get from the sport and judging people based on your standards. My idea of the perfect hunt involves loading up the ponies and packing in to a place with a lot of animals and few hunters. Everything seems to fall into place whether or not I am successful. I guess with others it is just shooting or a lust for the kill. Others may come out happy because they blazed a new trail on their "Sportsman" 600.
As far as saying there are many opportunities in Colorado for those with disabilites, I stand by that. Special allowances are made so they can hunt from and shoot from ATVs and snow machines. Special licenses and special areas are available too although the animal rights groups had a hissy when they were going to allow handicapped hunters to cull the herd at the Air Force Acadamy.
Let me know if you want hunting stories involving handicapped people I know of.
Hunting is a personal thing and success is not always dictated by physical ability. One may be more successful by sitting and watching a crossing area all day long than by busting brush and trying to jump em out of beds.
Colorado does not give any breaks for the elderly on hunting licenses (they do on fishing), but they do give breaks and create substantial opportunities for youth hunters. Maybe it is because I am not quite elderly, and I would buy my Dad's tag in an instant if he would let me, but I think giving kids opportunities to hunt is the most important thing they could do.
I absolutly see the sprawl and growth in Colorado. You cannot live here and not see it. I cannot do anything about peoples desire to live here, or there desire to procreate, but I do throw money into the RMEF and others in hope they can save the future of wildlife and hunting. Reality tells me that hunting as we know it may end up being something people only do in remote places of Alaska and Canada. I have not seen anyplace in the Rocky Mountain region not adversly affected by growth.
I wish you could afford to come hunt here, and I wish I could get my wife to approve the money to go hunt Washington (or any other state). I think Colorado's non-resident policies are fair - where else can one come to hunt bull elk every year? I know I would pay twice as much for a resident tag for the privelege of hunting. It seems to me the license fees are a small part of the cost of hunting.
CWD scares me in that there is so much not known about it - even by the ones studying it. Current solution seems to be kill em all and maybe the rest won't get it.. if they don't already have it and we just don't know yet.
ATV's as "poor mans horse"? I guess that depends on what you have in the first place. If you have the pasture and access to a truck and trailer, I think that horses are such a better solution there is no real comparison. Horses are just more work. ATVs seem to cost as much or more than a 4x4 hunting rig now days and you don't seem to see any over 10 years old out there. You can get 15 years of good work out of a horse and they will give you access to places ATV's only wish they could go - without running everything out of the country and tearing up the terrain. I do not like ATV's in general. I do not own one and I doubt I ever will. They do have there places, but currently I see more abuse than proper use. I try not to scream to loud because I do not want to create more in-fighting in a sport that is already under fire.
I really am not trying to tout Colorado, it is just where I live and what I know. It absolutely has its faults and you are welcome to disclose them - the odds are I agree. In some ways I know other states are superior for wildlife and others are just different.
Abundant wildlife is good
Habitat is good
Disease is bad
Ethical hunting is good
Hunters are good
Elk ranches are bad
It seems to me, that we are like most hunters, we agree with the important points. I like what you have to say about horses. I have grown up on horse ranches across the west. Not many can say that today, I guess. My dad "broke" horses for many people in many states, and I grew up helping him. He also managed several ranches. We did it all, from fencing to foaling. All the mechanican, to the plumbing. We put up hay, you name it. I always said the only thing that was more involved would be dairy farmin! 'Cause you don't have to milk 'em!-only, we did that too! Somtimes for certain reason's we had to milk a couple of mares. Funny now. I know you can't go back, but I miss it sometimes. I say a poor mans horse because a vet bill can kill you. Then again with fencing, ferrier, worming, a barn/paddock, and all the other stuff only someone who has raised horses could think of. Just the cost of a good horse is a few thousand. Enough with defence, read a study that said a 2-wheeled motorbike riding lightly still does three times the trail damage of a horse. Tell this to anyone who rides a bike, and boy do they get defensive. And remember, I said lightly, and on the trail. I quit hunting on certain lands due to the fact that wherever I went, there were 4-wheeler tracks. The noise and smell also ruin the sence of being in the wild. Give me the horse's or just my feet! I say, if you get to get out with your stock, you've already won. I also think Colorado is very fair on how it handles out of state licenses. Save your money. I don't think there is anything Wa. has to offer that you can't find better in your home state. Maybe bears. We don't have the product. Thats it in a nutshell. And it just keeps getting more expensive. Maybe one day the wife will let me go out of state. Thinking Wyoming or Montana, because its closer and drivable. Even Idaho has some great elk hunting. I hope the experts come up with some answers. Its hard not to lose patience.Hope they get this thing licked. Enough of my ramblings. Good luck to you this season.