Video Series: Seeing is Believing

A short two-part documentary film is increasing awareness about chronic wasting disease (CWD) to help people “witness” this disease through the eyes of others.

A short two-part documentary film is increasing awareness about chronic wasting disease (CWD) to help people “witness” this disease through the eyes of others.

Even though most hunters and landowners are not “seeing” infected deer in areas with high CWD prevalence, the films demonstrate how CWD is certainly present, explains why it is a major concern, and how stakeholder cooperation is the key to managing the disease. 

Two-part Documentary Film

Part 1 – Ride along with Josh Melby, CPW District Wildlife Manager, as he speaks on the importance of working with private landowners to address CWD. Hear from landowners about their personal experiences with CWD on their properties.

Part 2 – Listen to wildlife professionals from Colorado and Wyoming speak to what we’ve learned about CWD and the importance of teamwork to manage the disease.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) developed these films in partnership with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and multiple private conservation organizations.

About CWD

CWD is a prion disease that affects deer, elk and moose. The disease generally lasts 2 – 3 years in deer and is always fatal. CWD is primarily spread from infected animals coming into contact with uninfected animals, and concentrations of animals in small areas increases transmission.  Visit for more information about CWD in North America.

22 Responses

  1. Excellent video. I really enjoyed watching it and gaining an insight into this terrible and fatal disease. I am a private landowner in GMU 55 and hunt my land every year. So far, I haven’t encountered any sick deer or elk either during the hunting season or during the many summers we spend up at our home above Pitkin. I have noticed, however, a steady decline in the number of animals we are seeing. When we first bought our land and built the house back in the early ’80s I could count on drawing at least a cow tag every other year and about a 90% success rate in harvesting an elk. Over the past 10 years or so I’ve noticed a scarcity of any animals, be it deer or elk and not being successful in the draw but about every third or fourth year. Does the human population density have an adverse impact on these herds and how susceptible they are to contracting CWD? What I didn’t see in the videos is how an affected animal contracts the prion in the first place. Do they get it from the forage they eat? The habitat they live in and roam on? To me, it wasn’t particularly clear how this disease enters its host.

    All-in-all, it was an excellent video and I enjoyed watching and learning from it.

    1. How does CWD spread?
      CWD spreads through direct or indirect contact between animals. The disease agents, prions (pree-ons ) are present in saliva, feces and carcass parts of infected animals. These prions also can stay in the soil for long periods of time which is why it is also very important to monitor and control herds that are infected in order to minimize long-term contamination of their ranges with CWD prions. To learn more, please visit CPW’s About CWD and Adaptive Management web page-

    2. Ted…great comments and true insight to unit 55. I’ve been hunting unit 55 for the past 55 years and have seen a dramatic reduction in the elk and deer population. Unit 55 is a large and complex area with many types of terrain from deep black timber on top of matchless mountain to the sage plains of lost canyon. In my years I’ve seen 3 animals, all deer, that have had CWD unfortunately all of them were bucks. In my seasoned age 68, I now do less walking and hiking in deep timber so my area of hunting is much more limited to access by vehicle. Unit 55 is a large percentage of BLM land however when the hunting pressure starts the elk tend to move to private property and hunker down until snow moves them to their winter domains. I’ve talked to land owners in the Gunnison valley and Crested Butte area and they are seeing more CWD in the past 10 years on their private land in the valleys

      Enjoy you days and keep fighting for the deer and elk herds.

      Regards, an area 55 hunter. Mike

  2. Very informative video. This is a frightening disease that could lead to catastrophic losses if we don’t get a grip on it now. I know there is still much to learn about the disease and how to manage it. Hopefully this helps raise awareness of the issue and leads to more research and treatment options.

  3. I would Like to know how it started. Was it a product of Private herd growers or something else? Also The big herds over by Estes Park and all the land owners in that area that don’t allow hunting ? How is that not Game manegment? I myself live on the western slope and Hunt every year if I can. I have seen a decrease in the Deer Population but not of coarse in the town of Cedaredge lol. Just my thoughts.
    Tim Foxx
    We gotta talk about the Trout situation sometime. You can catch trout out of every puddle on the western slope. Just sayin.

    1. Tim I too would like an explanation about this. What I do know is it apparently started in a captive herd. Makes one immediately think human experimenting. I once was told something about CU conducting experiments on hoof and mouth disease with deer. As with any government situation we may never know the truth. I’m just not one to believe nature suddenly thru this one out there. That would be like thinking lake Mead is drying up due to evaporation.

    1. Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages the public to participate in the wolf restoration and management planning process.

      To learn more about the reintroduction of wolves and to share comments about the draft wolf management plan, please visit the

      Colorado Parks and Wildlife will also hold in-person meetings where the public is invited to provide comments. Meeting dates and agendas are available on the website.

  4. The videos raised awareness of the problem, but provided no guidance as to solutions, either for the landowners or individual hunters. It would have been good to add some information on what can and should be done to address the issue.

    1. There is not much individuals can do besides advocating for more funding to go towards research and management. As well as always reporting sick deer and taking your harvested deer into your local CPW office for testing…even if it isn’t mandatory.

    2. There is no answer to your question. That is why it is excluded. This video will be used to gain more funding to keep trying to manage the unmanageable. It has been 6 decades and to me this video shows exactly where we are at. We have learned nothing works and built a mega CWD business empire over these years.

    3. My thoughts exactly! These videos appear to be warming up the public to the idea that CWD is getting worse, we don’t have any effective way to address it, and be prepared for big changes in big game hunting in the future. If you want the help of hunters and land owners, you better tell them how they can be effective in stopping this disease! Being aware is just a bunch of useless handwringing!

  5. Wondering if there introductions of wolfs will do to the spread of CDW and if the program should be halted? Would wolfs feasting on these caucuses and spread the disease more?

  6. Hunting elk just a bit NE of Craig a few years ago we came across a buck mule deer that would not run from us but kept going in circles in about a 15 yard diameter. It appeared to be drunk! I am sure it was infected, but I did not know the number of who to call. Also, in a case like that should I have put the buck out of it’s misery (it appeared to be going mentally crazy)??

  7. This video is propaganda to sway the ignorant. There is no issues with CWD in the Gunnison / Unit 55 but CPW is on a mission to eradicate a problem that does not exist in many units. They have issued way too many buck tags in the Gunnison Basin the last 3 yrs. Take a look for yourself folks – in many regions doubling the buck tags during a time when bucks they are most susceptible to harvest. They want to eradicate the older age class of bucks as they feel they are the “carriers” yet there is no proof of this. They have been successful in “gutting’ the best mule deer herd in the world. Way to go Colorado!

  8. I would love to see a video on the whole process of finding an animal with cwd and taking it into the lab and actually see your whole process of discovering the disease and what you see under the microscope.

  9. Wyoming Game & Fish has somewhat of remedy for the immediate future, (i.e., WGFD purchased a mobile crematory to deal with CWD in their elk herds the past year). This is noted on their website. CWD has ravaged some of the premium hunting states Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Utah. Arizona in also in the picture but have not heard too much from that state. Bottom line is that something needs to be done, the mountain lions cannot do the job alone! Northern Colorado and most of Nebraska are some of the worst places for CWD. Nebraska doesn’t seem to really care about the disease, as such I will not be hunting big game in that state for a period of time, maybe never!

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