The Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) has announced a concerning development with regards to chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the state. During the fall 2023 hunting season, the IDFG confirmed the first positive case of CWD in a mule deer near New Meadows. This marks the first known case of the disease outside of the Riggins area where it was initially detected in 2021.
CWD is a contagious disease that affects deer, elk, and moose and currently has no cure, reliable live test for wild animals, or vaccine to prevent it. As a result, the IDFG is urging hunters participating in deer and elk hunts between New Meadows and Council to have their animals tested for the disease. In order to facilitate this, the IDFG is requesting hunters to bring the heads of harvested animals to any regional fish and game office for sampling. The organization relies on hunters’ cooperation in providing samples to understand the prevalence and distribution of CWD.
Symptoms of CWD in deer and elk include excessive drooling, drooping head or ears, tremors, extremely low body weight, and unusual behavior such as showing no fear of humans or lack of coordination. These symptoms can greatly impact the animals’ quality of life and ability to survive.
The current situation in the area near New Meadows presents a unique challenge compared to previous CWD detections in the Riggins area. The animals in this region are migratory, making it more difficult to mitigate the spread of the disease. The IDFG is emphasizing the importance of reporting any sick deer or elk killed on Highway 95 between Riggins and Weiser to the Nampa or McCall regional office, or by using the roadkill reporting webpage. This information will help the IDFG gather crucial data on the disease’s reach and impact.
To address the growing concerns around CWD, the IDFG has planned a meeting on November 14-15 in Lewiston where updates on the situation will be provided. This meeting will serve as an opportunity for the IDFG to address the community’s concerns, answer questions, and discuss potential strategies to combat the disease.
As chronic wasting disease continues to spread, it is crucial for hunters and the general public to stay informed and participate in efforts to monitor and control the disease’s spread. By working together and reporting any suspicious cases, stakeholders can help protect Idaho’s deer, elk, and moose populations from the devastating effects of CWD.
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