Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD was detected for the first time in Idaho in 2021 after more than 20 years of proactive surveillance and testing. CWD is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, and moose. There is no cure for this fatal disease.
As a result of last year’s detection and as part of Fish and Game’s annual surveillance program, biologists in the Magic Valley will focus CWD sampling efforts for mule deer and elk across the hunting units that border the State of Utah. Idaho is bordered to the north, east and south by Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, all of which have been CWD positive for several years.
Who should have their deer and elk tested
Fish and Game does not recommend that all hunters who harvest a deer, elk or moose in Idaho have it tested for CWD. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), there has been no reported cases of CWD infecting people. However, CDC recommends that people do not eat meat from an animal that tests positive for CWD.
In the Magic Valley Region, deer and elk hunters who hunt in Units 54, 55, 56, and 57 are encouraged to have their harvested animals tested for CWD.
Deer and elk testing
Testing for CWD is done after harvest by removing the lymph nodes in the neck of the deer or elk, or by removing the obex, which is the tissue at the base of the brain. It can take up to six weeks to get test results back, and the test results can be found online.
Hunters may request a CWD test sampling kit if they want to extract the lymph nodes themselves and have them tested. Fish and Game will provide the kit and testing is free. Allow at least a week for delivery of the sample kit. Hunters can also pick up a sampling kit at a Fish and Game regional office.
Testing cannot be done using meat from the harvested animal.
Beginning on October 1 through mid- November deer heads can also be brought to the Magic Valley Regional Office in Jerome for testing. In addition, heads or lymph node samples can be dropped off in large chest freezers for testing at the Magic Valley office as well as four locations around the Magic Valley. The locations of these freezers are the Rock Creek General Store south of Hansen, Rogerson Service in Rogerson, Farmers Market in Oakley and the Malta Fuel Depot in Malta. Freezers are available for drop-offs 24 hours a day.
Five freezer locations around the Magic Valley area are available for hunters to leave CWD samples or deer heads, 24 hours day/ 7 days a week.
First CWD detections in Idaho
CWD positive deer and elk were detected in Units 14 and 15 in 2021, both of which are located south of Grangeville in northern Idaho. These two units are now grouped into a designated CWD Management Zone, which means all hunters who harvest a deer, elk or moose in this zone are required to have their animals tested for CWD by depositing the head (antlers may be removed) at a designated drop off site.
Carcasses or any part of a deer, elk, or moose harvested in Units 14 or 15 may not be transported out of those units except quarters or deboned meat that does not include brain or spinal tissue, and edible organs that do not include brains. To see other exceptions, go to CWD rules webpage.
For more information, contact the Magic Valley Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.