MONTROSE, Colo. (KKCO) -- A deer near Montrose County tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease Thursday, a disease contagious and ultimately fatal to animals.
Parks and Wildlife officials urged residents to be aware of animals behavior.
CWD can infect deer, elk and moose, and is caused by a protein that attacks the animal's brain, which causes the animals to display abnormal behavior like poor coordination, emaciation or extremely thin bodies, then they eventually die.
“They can pick it up from nose to nose social contact, possibly from soil, its not like we have a large die off of animals, from this disease, its concentrated in some areas more than others," said Joe Lewandowski, with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Lewandowski said the disease has been in Colorado for over 30 years. CWD has been found in 77 of the Colorado’s 186 game management units, but this is the first case found in the south west region of the state.
"It's been mainly in the northern half of the state, this is the first time we've seen it south of I-70. We really don't know how prevalent it is down here. If one deer has it, it's likely that other deer have it in the area," Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski said residents who encounter an animal that looks like the description, they should report it right away.
It may not be safe to eat animals with CWD, but normally the disease can not transfer to humans.
Hunters in game management units 62, 64 and 65, who harvest any deer this fall, can have their animals tested for FREE by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. These game management units are those located around the city of Montrose.
Anyone who picks up a road kill deer in these units can also have the animal tested at no charge.
Hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in any other area in the state can submit their animals for testing for a $25 fee.
More information on this disease and other precautions advised by CPW can be found by clicking the link on the right side of you screen.