During the last several weeks, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game became aware of several separate incidents of hunters illegally transporting whole deer carcasses or deer heads into Idaho from states with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). It’s important for hunters traveling to states where CWD is present to know that it is illegal to bring whole carcasses or heads back to Idaho.
CWD is a contagious and always-fatal neurological disease that affects elk, deer, moose, and caribou. CWD is spread through prions (misfolded proteins) found in spine, brain and other nervous tissues. Because of that, Idaho passed a law in 2018 making it illegal to bring any portion of spine, brain and other nervous system tissues of a wild elk, deer, moose or caribou into Idaho from CWD-positive states or provinces in Canada.
Incident 1: Idaho Department of Fish and Game was notified by Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks that a potentially CWD-positive deer was harvested in Montana by a hunter from Shelley. Idaho Fish and Game followed up with the hunter and discovered that the entire deer carcass had been transported to Idaho, which is illegal. The deer carcass and meat were disposed of in a landfill.
Incident 2: Four Rigby hunters transported seven deer carcasses (harvested in Nebraska) through Wyoming and into Idaho. A concerned citizen who watched the pick-up truck loaded with the deer cross state lines and enter Teton Valley reported the incident through the Citizens Against Poaching hotline.
An Idaho Fish and Game conservation officer contacted the hunters at their Rigby residence. The hunters were allowed to remove the meat and antlers from the animals and arrangements were made for disposal of the brain and spinal tissues in the Bannock County Landfill, an approved facility for the disposal of known or suspect CWD material.
In both incidents, the hunters were given warnings for transport of nervous system tissue from deer into or through Idaho from a known CWD-positive state.
Incident 3: The Panhandle Region is currently investigating numerous situations where hunters have transported the heads from mule deer harvested in Montana to northern Idaho taxidermists.
Violation of current CWD rules is a misdemeanor. Warnings can be issued at the officer’s discretion, but those cited can incur the following penalties:
A fine between $25 and $1000
Up to 3-year suspension of hunting and/or fishing and/or trapping license(s)
Up to 6 months in jail.
Idahoans need to be aware of the substantial risks to Idaho’s wildlife that come from transporting whole carcasses, spines and brain matter into Idaho from CWD positive states or provinces. The introduction of CWD into Idaho can have significant impacts on Idaho’s deer, elk and moose populations. It’s important for all Idaho hunters to know and follow preventative measures to ensure a healthy future for our wildlife.
Learn more about how you can reduce the risk of CWD spreading to Idaho. Visit https://idfg.idaho.gov/cwd/rules.