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Ask the Conservation Office (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer

Question: "I harvested a deer during the archery season. When I began cutting and wrapping the deer, I noticed it had been previously injured causing loss of a large amount of meat. I was denied an option of another deer tag. Why?"

Answer: The Department is very concerned about wildlife diseases, especially those that may be a human health concern.

In those instances the Department is willing to allow a hunter an option of purchasing a second tag to continue hunting. The Department wishes to eliminate any potential threat to human health. In addition, as part of the Department's wildlife disease surveillance program we are always on the lookout for potential diseases occurring in wild animals that may affect wild populations.

If a second tag is granted the entire first animal, including the meat, hide, antlers and all parts are surrendered to the Department for disposal or testing.

This issue is sometimes difficult and some hunters in the past have been allowed a second tag for very minimal reasons. Some hunters have harvested injured or sick animals to prevent them from further suffering. We all have compassion for sick or injured animals and do not wish to prolong suffering for any animals, however if a hunter chooses to kill and injured animal to stop it's suffering without first being directed to do so from a conservation officer, he may not be allowed to obtain a second tag.

There are many factors affecting the meat of a big game animal, including care and handling post-mortem. In the wild most big game animals are healthy. However some animals suffer from many maladies, parasites, and injures. In the wild they are constantly be tested by predators (including humans) and the environment. The theories of Charles Darwin suggest only the fittest animals survive, but he never said they'd be injury free.

Through the purchase of a hunting license and big game tag a hunter is provided an opportunity to hunt. The Department cannot promise you will fill your freezer with meat. Neither can the Department guarantee the meat obtained from a wild animal is free from defects.

If you have any further questions you may call the Magic Valley Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208)324-4350 or e-mail us at the Fish and Game web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.