Latest News




CWD Publications

Progress Reports

Partner Links

Public Meetings

Contact Us




Colorado State University logo and link

Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory logo and link

National Science Foundation logo and link

Research supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the community stay informed?  We will hold community meetings about the project every six months at the Livermore Community Hall. We are in the process of forming a citizen advisory committee including landowners and natural resource managers that will meet quarterly with staff from the project. There will be a project web site offering all project documents and timely progress reports for citizens.  We will work with the Poudre School District to develop ways for our project to contribute to science education.  In particular, we hope to contribute to the science curriculum at the Livermore School.

What will we do with what we find out?  Our results will be published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals and communicated to the community via popular articles, fact sheets, public meetings, and a project web site.  We will work with the Larimer County Extension Service to assure our results are distributed to interested citizens.

How do we capture deer? We will trap deer in nets shot from a helicopter. Deer will be blindfolded, hobbled, and slung
to nearby sites where we will collect samples and fit them with radio collars. The entire process generally takes less
than 30 minutes for each deer. Almost all of the captured deer will be adult females. Our capture procedures have been
reviewed and approved by the Colorado State University Animal Care and Use Committee to assure these procedures
are safe and humane. Deer may also be captured using drop nets, which are like a small tent that is dropped over a group of deer that have been drawn to a site using bait.

Where will we capture deer? We are now choosing study sites. We work only in areas where landowners give us specific, written permission to come onto their

Isn’t net gunning dangerous? What will you do to assure that animals aren’t injured or killed? Every research project that involves animals at Colorado State University must be scrutinized by the University Animal Care and Use Committee to assure that researchers treat animals in a safe and humane way.  Our protocol has been reviewed and approved by that committee. It is available for your review on this website (link).  The helicopter netgunning company that we will work with, Quicksilver Air, captured 1519 mule deer during their 2008-2009 capture season.  There were 21 mortalities during capture, which works out to about 1%.  Their Animal Handling Manual is available for your review on this website (link).

All of our captures will be staffed with veterinarians highly experienced with wildlife capture.  The condition of animals will be closely monitored while animals are handled and the vets will intervene as needed to prevent health problems.

What is your relationship to the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) and will your results be used to justify another culling operation?  The success of this research will depend on many partnerships.  We have partnerships with landowners.  We are in a permitting process with Larimer County and the City of Fort Collins seeking to work on the public lands they manage.  The Division of Wildlife will also be one of our important and valued partners in this work.  They will help us in important ways during animal capture. Mike Miller, the Head of the Wildlife Health Program for the CDOW, is a valued member of our research team. We seek the wisdom and counsel of the CDOW in the same way we seek the wisdom and support of landowners. So, the main message is that we have many partners, but after all is said and done, this is a Colorado State University project.

Our only obligation to our sponsors, the National Science Foundation, is to do solid research and communicate our results. We will communicate our findings to other scientists, to citizens, and to land and wildlife managers, including the CDOW.  We hope that we will be able to offer findings that will inform wildlife managers, but making decisions on management is not part of our mission. 

You are going to be working on land with lots of different owners and managers. These areas will be different, with differing objectives and different sensitivities.  How will you assure that you respect the desires of the different landowners and land managers who you will work with?
The first thing we will do after we have received permission to work on someone’s land is to learn about the land and the “rules of the road” for working there. The field staff (Geremia and Krumm) and the project leader (Hobbs) will come to the property and will write down everything that each landowner is concerned about—pastures that shouldn’t be disturbed, restrictions on vehicle travel, considerations about gates, how the landowner wants to be notified when we plan to come onto his or her property and so on.  These instructions will be compiled and placed in a notebook in our field vehicle.  Every field person will be responsible for knowing every line in that notebook.  In addition, we will have frequent conversations with landowners. If concerns come up, we will be glad to talk about them as they arise.

How can you be sure that your activities will not spread the disease?  We will use standard veterinary protocols to assure that infectious materials are not transmitted from one animal to another.  Sterile latex gloves will be replaced after each animal is handled.  We will use sterile instruments to take samples.  Refurbished collars will be disinfected before they are placed on an animal. No deer will be transported out of the study area.  Deer transported in capture will not be moved further than 2 miles from the capture site.

Hasn’t there already been a lot of work on CWD?  Why isn’t there a cure? It is true that it can take a long time to understand how diseases work.  Our team appreciates that taxpayers might get impatient with the lack of progress on a cure for CWD, or for that matter on a cure for the common cold.  But it is undeniably true that science proceeds in increments of knowledge and each increment has the potential to lead to true discovery.  We can’t anticipate what those discoveries might be.  But we can be sure that no disease was defeated unless we had a solid understanding of its biology.  Our work will add to that understanding.

What if a hunter sees an animal with a collar on it.  Can that animal be harvested?  Yes.  All we ask is that the animal be tested and that we get our collar back.   We will pay for the test.

What will you do to assure that all of the collars are removed when you are done with the study? We will alter all of our adult doe VHF collars on recaptured animals during the fourth year of the study (2014).  When we handle recaptured animals, we will install 3 pieces of surgical tubing and a second metal clasp to each collar.  The tubing will serve as a weak point that generally fails between 7-10 months.  The tubing will be connected by the 3 metal clasps, and we will clip the existing leather strapping.  This approach is regularly used with deer.  The collars will fall off that year.  There will likely be a small component of the population that will not be captured in January-February 2014.  We will use our remaining helicopter budget and perhaps some targeted ground efforts (e.g., darting) to remove any remaining devices by the end of February 2015.  The juvenile, male, and adult doe GPS/VHF collars have existing release mechanisms with a trigger date of 733 days after collar activation.

Animal Care

Colorado State University IACUC (Institutional Care and Use Committee) approved protocol.

Quicksilver Air Animal Handling and Safety Manual.