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Idaho Department of Fish and Game asks hunters for help in fight against CWD

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 13, 2020

An Idaho Fish and Game employee logs a lymph node sample returned by a hunter in this undated photo.  (Sara Cassinelli/Idaho Fish and Game)
An Idaho Fish and Game employee logs a lymph node sample returned by a hunter in this undated photo. (Sara Cassinelli/Idaho Fish and Game)

Hunters in North Idaho are being asked to collect deer samples this weekend and next in the ongoing fight against Chronic Wasting Disease.

“It’s really important for us to try and stay on top of it and be as vigilant as we can, to hopefully reduce spread,” IDFG spokeswoman Kara Campbell said.

Hunters are asked to remove lymph nodes, located near the base of the jaw, from any deer they kill.

Although the deadly neurological disease has not been found in Idaho or Washington, the discovery of infected deer in Libby, Montana, less than 25 miles from the Idaho Panhandle in 2019, triggered year-round monitoring in the Panhandle.

CWD kills deer and elk, similar to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. There is no known cure. Infected animals will, among other things, stumble, drool, show no fear of people and lose weight.

Since 2017, IDFG has done year-round surveillance in the southeastern region of the state. That surveillance effort started after a mule deer in Wyoming’s Star Valley tested positive for CWD the year prior. The deer was 1½ miles from the Idaho border. Other close calls include a 2010 confirmation about 5 miles from the Idaho border in Bedford, Wyoming.

The IDFG’s current surveillance strategy includes collecting samples from hunters and roadkill and responding to reports of deer behaving abnormally. The sampling model gives IDFG a 95% chance of detecting CWD if 1% of the population is infected.

Idaho first started testing for CWD in 1997 and has sampled around 16,000 mule deer, white-tails, elk and moose. Those samples are sent to an out-of-state lab.

Check stations will be operated Saturday, Sunday, and Nov. 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to sunset.

Check stations will be located at:

Priest River: along State Highway 57

Samuels: along US Highway 95

St. Maries: south on State Highway 3

IDFG also has freezers across the region where hunters can deposit their lymph node sample or deer heads. Each freezer has instructions attached to it and information tags are to be filled out for each head and sample. All samples should be kept cool or frozen until transferred to a freezer.

Panhandle freezers are located at:

Bonners Ferry: Far North Outfitters, 6791 S. Main Street

Sagle: WaterLife Discovery Center, 1591 Lakeshore Drive

Plummer: Heyburn State Park, 57 Chatcolet Road

Kingston: Kwikstop Gas Station, 123 Stemm Loop

Hunters can also bring their lymph node samples or deer heads into the Regional Office at 2885 W. Kathleen Ave., Coeur d’Alene, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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