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Wolves could help control wasting disease

DENVER — A new study based on conditions at Rocky Mountain National Park says the introduction of wolves could be an effective way to stop a brain disease that's 100 percent fatal for deer and elk.

Three Colorado researchers say existing efforts to control chronic wasting disease — which focus on reducing herd numbers — are expensive and so far ineffective.

The disease is similar to mad cow disease, but there's no evidence it's ever sickened a human. Still, health experts warn hunters not to eat the meat from an infected animal.

National Park Service wildlife veterinarian Margaret Wild says wolves' tendency to prey on weak or sick animals could help remove contagious animals from the deer and elk population and reduce infection rates. She also says wolves could help scatter large herds and further reduce the risk of disease transmission.