Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Senior Coordinator, Rocky Mountain States
Why It Matters: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease occurring in farmed and free ranging cervid species including deer, elk, caribou, and moose that causes the brain to degenerate and develop cavities becoming sponge like in appearance. CWD can reduce the growth, size, and overall herd health of cervids in areas where the prevalence is high. As a top concern for wildlife managers across North America, the number one objective in the management of CWD is to prevent its spread into new areas which is why it is undeniable critical for hunters to abide by all state rules and regulations pertaining to the transportation of harvested big game and their parts.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first recognized in 1967 as a clinical ‘wasting’ syndrome of unknown cause in captive mule deer in Colorado. CWD belongs to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). TSEs include several different diseases affecting animals or humans including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (commonly known as “Mad Cow Disease”) in cattle, scrapie in sheep and goats, and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans. Although CWD shares certain features with other TSEs, it is a distinct disease affecting only cervid species and is currently not known to be contagious to people. CWD infections can reduce the growth, size, and overall herd health of cervid populations in areas where the prevalence is high. As a top concern for wildlife managers across North America, the number one objective in the management of CWD is to prevent its spread into new areas.
Despite being identified in free-ranging cervid populations in the surrounding states of Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, CWD has been detected for the first time in Idaho as stated in a recent press release by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG). The two mule deer bucks that tested positive the disease were harvested near Lucile, Idaho, in the eastern portion of the state, near the Oregon border. Because there are no known captive or free-ranging cases of CWD in the surrounding area of the initial detection, the disease was most likely introduced accidentally through the transportation infected deer, elk, or their parts.
To reduce the risk of introduction and subsequent spread of CWD in the state, Idaho previously implemented and continues to enforce several rules that state citizens and visitors alike are expected to abide by including:
With many hunters returning home from successful big game hunts across the country, it is absolutely critical that we be responsible and follow state rules and regulations pertaining to the transportation of our harvests.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?