by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has found seven positive samples of chronic wasting disease from elk and deer in the last two years.
The latest positive sample — which was the first one of the 2022 hunting season — came last week from a young white-tailed doe that was found dead along Slate Creek Road in Idaho County. According to Fish and Game, the animal was found by a department employee and its cause of death is unknown.
That case brings a total of seven animals confirmed with CWD in Idaho: two mule deer bucks, two whitetail bucks, two whitetail doe, and one cow elk. All of the positive samples were taken in Game Management Unit 14, which is between Grangeville and Riggins.
Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disorder similar to mad cow disease, caused by a prion – or pathogenic, misfolded protein – that affects the brain and nervous system of deer, elk, moose and caribou. Unlike mad cow disease, it is believed that CWD does not have a form transmissible to humans.
“We are a bit surprised to find our first positive sample in Unit 14 – on the west side of the state – when we know we have it to the south in Utah and to the east in Wyoming and Montana,” Idaho Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever told Idaho Reports in December 2021.
Fish and Game has designated Units 14 and 15 in central Idaho as a CWD Management Area with special rules for harvesting deer, elk or moose. The department is also operating sampling and test drop-off locations and check stations across the state.
Public feeding of deer, elk, or moose in a designated CWD management zone is prohibited. Transporting a carcass out of a CWD management zone is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years hunting license revocation, up to $1,000 fine, and 6 months in jail.
Fish and Game has collected test samples from over 1,000 deer and elk this year, most of which are still pending. The department tested more than 2,500 animals for CWD in 2021, and has sampled more than 20,000 animals for the disease since 1997.
Although there is no evidence to date that the disease can occur in humans, the CDC recommends against eating meat from an animal that tests positive for CWD.
CWD MANAGEMENT ZONE
Units 14-15 restrictions:
– It is illegal to transport any carcass or part of a deer, elk, or moose out of Units 14 and 15, except quarters, boned-out meat, or cleaned skulls or skull caps
– It is illegal to possess a or transport a full carcass or any part of a deer, elk, or moose taken from Units 14 or 15 in any part of the state outside of these units except quarters, boned-out meat, dried antlers, or cleaned and dried skulls or skull caps (see full list of exceptions).
Units 14-15 requirements:
– All deer, elk and moose must be tested for CWD.
– Hunters may take a CWD sample (lymph nodes taken from the head) in the field, or bring the animal’s head to a check station, drop-off location, or designated regional office
– Quarter or debone animal at kill site and leave gut piles and spine if traveling outside of Units 14 or 15.
– If staying within Units 14 or 15, the spinal cords and heads must be disposed of in an approved solid waste landfill, dumpster or trash can that will be taken to an approved landfill.
– Antlers should be removed in the field if the hunter is also taking a CWD sample in the field.
– If heads are taken to a check station or Fish and Game office for CWD sampling, antlers will be removed by Fish and Game staff, cleaned and returned to hunters.
– Animal heads will remain with Fish and Game and properly disposed of in an approved facility.
Rules for any hunter taking an animal to a taxidermist or meat processor:
– The animal may be caped and taken to a taxidermist, but it may not leave Units 14 or 15 and must still be taken to Fish and Game staff for sampling.
– Quarters or deboned meat may leave the site, but gut piles and spine should remain at the kill site.