CWD Confirmed in Idaho for the First Time: Why Following State Fish and Wildlife Agency Regulations is Crucial to Slowing the Spread of This Disease.

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Senior Coordinator, Rocky Mountain States

Highlights

  • Two mule deer bucks harvested during October near Lucile in eastern Idaho have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
  • Although CWD has been known to exist in the Western United States for over 40 years, this is the first-time animals in Idaho have tested positive for the fatal disease.
  • This disheartening finding serves as a grim reminder to the importance of following state rules regarding the transportation of live cervids or their carcasses across state lines.

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:

  1. A person must first obtain a permit from IDFG to import, export, or transport live mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, and wild-origin elk. A proposed rule will ban all importing of these animals into Idaho.
  2. Idaho bans the use of natural cervid urine for big game hunting, which includes urine from deer, elk, moose, and caribou.
  3. Idaho bans importing a carcass or any part of a wild deer, elk, moose, or caribou from another state, province in Canada or any other country with a documented case of CWD. Exemptions to this ban include:
    • Meat that is cut and wrapped
    • Quarters or deboned meat that does not include brain or spinal tissue
    • Edible organs that do not include brains
    • Hides without heads
    • Upper canine teeth
    • Ivories, buglers, or whistlers
    • Finished taxidermy
    • Dried antlers
    • Cleaned and dried skulls or skull caps

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.

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