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Forest Fires May Help Fight Chronic Wasting Disease Among Deer and Elk

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John McColgan
/
Creative Commons
Elk take refuge in a river during a forest fire in Bitterroot Forest, Montana.

Controlled burns may be the only way to fight the spread of chronic wasting disease among deer and elk. That’s the belief of a Colorado State University researcher who is planning experimental fires on National Park Service lands in Colorado and Arkansas. The New York Times reports that Mark Zabel and a colleague believe the prions that spread the illness, which is similar to mad-cow disease, may be present not only in sick animals, but in the landscape itself. They believe controlled blazes may be the only way to rid plants and soil of the deformed proteins.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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