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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Washington restricts import of big game carcasses from Montana after CWD confirmed

In November 2017, Montana became the 23rd state in which a member of the deer family tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
In November 2017, Montana became the 23rd state in which a member of the deer family tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

HUNTING -- The discovery of chronic wasting disease in free-ranging deer in Montana this fall means restrictions for sportsmen who come from CWD-free states to hunt deer, elk or moose there.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has filed an emergency rule that adds Montana to the list of states and provinces with restrictions on what parts of the game animals can be brought across the state line.

CWD has not been detected in Washington or Idaho, and officials hope to keep it that way. However, the discovery of CWD in Montana means the disease has hopped a step farther west.

CWD is caused by prions (mutated proteins) that affect the nervous systems of the deer family. It’s a fatal illness that can be transmitted between these animals, WDFW said in release. While CWD is not known to affect humans, experts routinely advise hunters to avoid consuming sickly animals and to wear protective gloves when field dressing game.

“We discussed our contingency for dealing with CWD at our meeting last week,” Brad Corkill, Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner from Cataldo said Tuesday at a sportsman breakfast in Coeur d’Alene. “Our discussion is no longer about ‘if’ CWD makes it to Idaho, it’s about ‘when.’”

"Idaho Fish and Game currently has no restrictions against hunters bringing deer or elk carcasses into the state," said Roger Phillips, agency media contact in Boise. However, he said the agency is revising its CWD response plan, which was written in 2002 and revised in 2010 and 2012. The next revision could address transporting carcasses to reduce the chances of CWD coming in from other states.

CWD has been detected in animals in 23 states and two Canadian provinces as well as in the countries of South Korea and Norway. Other states and provinces with importation restrictions in Washington are listed on page 65 of Washington's 2017 Big Game Hunting Seasons & Regulations pamphlet.

Washington restricts hunters who harvest a deer, elk, or moose in a CWD-positive state  -- which now includes Montana -- from bringing certain tissue and potions of the animal’s head an skeleton in to the state.

Only the following items from these animals can be brought into Washington:

  • Meat that has been deboned in the state or province where it was harvested and is imported as boned-out meat.
  • Skulls and antlers, antlers attached to the skull plate, or upper canine teeth (bugler, whistlers, ivories) from which all soft tissue has been removed.
  • Hides or capes without heads attached.
  • Tissue imported for use by a diagnostic or research laboratory.
  • Finished taxidermy mounts.

WDFW has been testing for CWD since 1995, although testing has been only occasional in recent years, said Kristin Manfield, state wildlife veterinarian.

Montana officials have confirmed that a deer killed by a hunter in late October had the disease. A second potential case is undergoing further testing. It's the first time the disease has been detected in Montana wildlife.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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