Idaho Fish and Game needs help from hunters. New protocols have been introduced for sampling deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and hunters will play a critical role. Although the disease has not been found in Idaho, the prevalence of CWD has been expanding in some neighboring states. In response, Idaho Fish and Game is in the process of updating its CWD action plan.
As in the past, CWD samples will be taken at check stations in 2017, but the revised surveillance plan has more intensive testing in certain hunting units each year and sampling will rotate to new units annually. For the 2017 hunting season, the intensive sampling units will be in eastern Idaho and the west central parts of the state. This allows Fish and Game to sample a sufficient number of mule deer to detect the disease in the targeted populations rather than an overall statewide sampling effort.
But check stations may not provide enough samples to get the numbers required, so Fish and Game is asking hunters who did not pass through a check station to voluntarily bring in their mule deer heads from the game management units listed below to Fish and Game regional offices during normal business hours.
Hunters may wish to call ahead to ensure someone is available to sample their deer. Leave the upper portion of the neck attached to the head so that staff can remove the lymph nodes from the throat. Only adult and yearling mule deer, both males and females, are being tested, so heads of fawns are not needed.
Game management units being sampled in west central Idaho include 22, 23, 24, 31, 32, 32A, 39, 43, 44, 45, 48 and 52. In eastern Idaho, the game management units are 60, 60A, 61, 62, 62A, 64, 65, 66, 66A, 67, 69, 72 and 76. (See map below). Idaho Fish and Game is also asking individuals who salvage road killed mule deer in the sample areas to bring in the head and upper neck to a regional office so staff can remove the lymph nodes.
Idaho Fish and Game has created a CWD information page Hunter Harvest and Chronic Wasting Disease with frequently asked questions and videos.
CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, and has been detected in 22 states and two Canadian provinces. At this time, information suggests that CWD affects only cervids. Biologists believe it is transmitted through feces, urine and saliva. Infected animals lose weight and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to be isolated and show abnormal behavior with excess salivating and teeth grinding. If you see a deer, elk or moose with these symptoms, please report it to Idaho Fish and Game as soon as possible.