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Jacob W. Frank / NPS

Colorado's poised to put the question of wolf reintroduction on the November ballot. One unanswered question is how the predators might affect the spread of chronic wasting disease, if at all.

CWD is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that currently infects deer, elk, moose and reindeer. Critics of wolf reintroduction argue that more predators on the landscape could further spread CWD.

Heather Swanson
Rae Ellen Bichell / KUNC

Heather Swanson and Ryan Prioreschi monitor wildlife with the City of Boulder. They're standing in knee-high golden grass on a slope where the Rocky Mountains start slumping into the plains — the epicenter of a now-international animal epidemic. The ecologists have their binoculars out and they’re staring right at the problem.

A fawn is running circles around the rest of the herd, with the boing of a muscular slinky toy.

Ryan Hagerty / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Chronic wasting disease is crippling deer populations in the Mountain West, around the country and in bordering Canadian provinces. It's not a bacterium or a virus or even a fungus, but caused by something called a prion, a type of protein that all mammals have in their bodies.

Mule deer
Ryan Moehring / USFWS

Hunters in Colorado are being advised to be on the lookout for a contagious disease that kills deer.

The Daily Camera reports chronic wasting disease has now spread to 24 states, including Colorado.

And, while it has yet to happen, there is some concern it could spread to humans who hunt and eat the meat.

Warren Brown / Flickr

Senators from across the country and on both sides of the aisle have introduced a bill to tackle a problematic illness of deer, elk and moose.

It's called chronic wasting disease. Like so-called "mad cow," it’s a prion disease, meaning that it is not caused by viruses or bacteria, but instead by aberrant proteins in the nervous system.

Utah is the only state in the Mountain West region that offers a bounty for coyotes — a major predator of young mule deer. Now the program is being updated because some people are cheating.