The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently approved proposed changes to some deer and elk hunts in response to disease outbreaks in the Clearwater area last year.
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease swept through low-lying areas of the region last summer and killed thousands of white-tailed deer. Chronic wasting disease was detected in Game Management Unit 14 in October. This is the first time the deadly disease has been detected in Idaho.
In response to the discovery of chronic wasting disease, the commission approved the expansion of hunts in the region which aim to keep the prevalence of the disease below 5% and slow its geographic spread.
“This is the beginning of chronic wasting disease management in Unit 14 and in Idaho,” said agency director Ed Schriever. “From what we learn, we will adapt in the future.”
Here are some of the other recently approved measures:
The commission increased the number of hunting tags controlled by antlered mule deer from 180 to 380 in Unit 14, with the hunting season extending from October 10 to November 20.
He approved a new controlled hunt with 180 “extra” antlerless tags for mule deer from October 10 to November 20 in Unit 14. The “extra” tags allow hunters to harvest another deer in addition to their antlerless tag. regular or controlled hunting.
The commission added 250 “additional” white-tailed deer tags with antlers and 250 “additional” white-tailed deer tags without antlers. Each hunt runs from October 10 to November 20 in Unit 14.
Landowner tags will be offered in addition to controlled hunting tags and based on the percentage of tags available in controlled hunting designs.
Elk tags will increase from 50 to 80 tags in the hunt with Landowner Permission #2165 in the 14-1 Controlled Hunt. In addition, the southern boundary of the hunting unit will be extended by approximately 3 miles.
Commissioners also required testing for chronic wasting disease for deer, elk and moose captured in Units 14 and 15.
Commissioners eliminated 1,500 controlled hunt tags for antlerless white-tailed deer in response to the EHD outbreak that killed an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 animals. Discounts include 200 youth tags in the 8-1X hunt, 350 in the 8-2X hunt, 350 in the 8A-1X hunt, 300 in the 10A-1X hunt, and 300 in the 11A-1X hunt.
Fish and Game officials discovered six cases of chronic wasting disease in deer and elk in Unit 14 last fall and winter. Tests have shown that the amount of disease – or prevalence – is estimated to be less than 2% for deer and likely even lower for elk. According to the department, research in other states has shown that keeping the prevalence rate below 5% can slow its spread. When CWD prevalence rates increase above 5%, the disease is more likely to spread rapidly within a herd and also to spread geographically.
CWD is a neurological disease that affects deer, elk, moose and caribou. There is no practical live test for the disease, so only samples taken from dead animals can be used. Although new to Idaho, MDC is present in 29 US states and four Canadian provinces, including the neighboring states of Montana, Wyoming and Utah.
Although it has never been shown to infect humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people not to consume meat from animals with the disease. Rules governing the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area prohibit feeding deer and elk and prohibit removing the head or spine of deer and elk, including salvaged roadkill animals.
More information is available at idfg.idaho.gov/cwd.