CWD, In response to disease outbreaks in the Clearwater Region last year, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently approved proposed changes to some deer and elk hunts.
Last summer, epizootic hemorrhagic disease swept through the region’s low-elevation areas, killing thousands of whitetail deer. In October, Game Management Unit 14 was found to have chronic wasting disease. This is the first time the deadly disease has been discovered in Idaho.
In response to the discovery of CWD, the commission approved the expansion of hunts in the area with the goal of keeping the disease’s prevalence below 5% and slowing its geographic spread.
“This is the beginning of chronic wasting disease management in Unit 14 and in Idaho,” said agency Director Ed Schriever. “We will adapt in the future based on what we learn.”
Here are some of the other recent measures that have been approved:
The commission increased the number of antlered mule deer controlled hunt tags in Unit 14 from 180 to 380, with the hunting season running from Oct. 10 to Nov. 20.
It approved a new controlled hunt in Unit 14 with 180 “extra” antlerless mule deer tags from Oct. 10 to Nov. 20. In addition to their regular or controlled hunt tag, “extra” tags allow hunters to harvest another deer.
The commission added 250 “extra” antlerless whitetail tags and 250 antlerered whitetail tags. Each hunt takes place in Unit 14 from October 10 to November 20.
Landowner tags will be available in addition to controlled hunt tags and will be based on the percentage of available tags in controlled hunt drawings.
Elk tags will be increased from 50 to 80 in controlled hunt 14-1 landowner permission hunt No. 2165. Furthermore, the hunt unit’s southern boundary will be extended by about 3 miles.
CWD testing was also mandated for deer, elk, and moose taken in Units 14 and 15.
In response to the EHD outbreak, which killed an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 animals, commissioners eliminated 1,500 controlled hunt tags for antlerless whitetail deer. There will be 200 youth tags reduced in hunt 8-1X, 350 in hunt 8-2X, 350 in hunt 8A-1X, 300 in hunt 10A-1X, and 300 in hunt 11A-1X.
Last fall and winter, Fish and Game officials discovered six cases of CWD in deer and elk in Unit 14. Testing revealed that the amount of disease – or prevalence – in deer is estimated to be less than 2%, and likely even lower in elk. According to the department, research from other states has shown that keeping the prevalence rate under 5% can help to slow the spread. When CWD prevalence rates exceed 5%, the disease is more likely to spread quickly within a herd and to spread geographically.
The neurological disease CWD affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou. Because there is no practical live test for the disease, only samples from deceased animals can be used. CWD is present in 29 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, including neighbouring states Montana, Wyoming, and Utah.
Despite the fact that it has never been shown to infect humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people not to consume meat from diseased animals. The rules governing the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone prohibit feeding deer and elk and the removal of deer and elk heads or spinal columns, including salvaged road-killed animals.