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Sports >  Outdoors

Idaho to offer CWD surveillance hunts after confirmation of deadly deer disease

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 3, 2021

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)

Idaho Fish and Game will offer 1,527 deer tags for Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance hunts with the discounted tags sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at IDFG regional offices only, according to an agency news release.

These specialized hunts are intended to gather 775 CWD samples with strict requirements for those hunters who participate. These hunts are limited to Idaho residents only.

During October, two mule deer bucks taken by hunters near Slate Creek north of Riggins tested positive for CWD, and officials need to know if there are other animals infected with the disease in the area.

Tags will be divided between public and private lands and are exclusive to either of those. A large portion of the deer herds in the area are likely to be located on private lands during the hunts.

“We appreciate hunters’ willingness to help us get these important CWD samples. Hunters who want to participate will have to do some things that may be inconvenient, but they are critical to help us to get a better understanding of the extent of CWD in the area,” said Scott Reinecker, deputy director of IDFG in a news release.

All harvested deer taken during the CWD surveillance hunts must be tested for CWD with no exceptions. IDFG will take samples from deer heads at Lewiston, McCall and other regional offices, and at designated check stations near the hunt locations, according to the release.

There will be 35 hunt areas, and each surveillance hunt will have a targeted number of CWD samples. All hunts are scheduled to end on Dec. 19, but could close earlier, or be extended, based on the number of samples collected.

Details about each hunt are available at

CWD surveillance hunt tags will cost $10 each and are limited to one per hunter on public lands. These hunts will start on Tuesday, and if the targeted number of samples is reached before the end of a hunt, hunters will receive notification (email or phone call if email is not available) that the hunt will close within 48 hours.

Hunters are allowed to keep the meat and antlers (for buck tags) of the deer they harvest.

Hunters participating in CWD surveillance hunts are required to:

  • Only harvest the deer for which they have a valid tag; i.e. mule deer or white-tailed deer, antlerless only or antlered only, and only in the hunt area in which your tag is valid.
  • Harvest only an adult deer; no fawns may be harvested.
  • Hunters are required to quarter or debone a harvested animal at the kill site.
  • Present the head of any harvested deer to a check station or regional office within 24 hours. Fish and Game will contact any hunter whose animal tests positive for CWD.
  • Hunt only on public land and not hunt on private property if they have a tag for public land, and vice versa for private property hunts.

Understand that the hunt may close before the closing date listed on the tag, and no rain checks or refunds will be given for tags that are not filled.

Record the GPS location where they harvest a deer. (A smartphone will work for this.)

Properly handle the carcass of a harvested animals in accordance with Fish and Game directions, which will be provided when a tag is issued.

CWD is a fatal disease caused by a prion, which is a type of infectious protein that affects the nervous system of deer, elk, reindeer and moose. The prion protein is primarily in certain tissues in the animal, including eye, brain, spinal cord and lymph nodes. Animals may not appear ill or show any symptoms early in the infection.

Although new to Idaho, CWD is found in 27 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces.

CWD was detected in Wyoming in the mid-1980s and first detected in Montana in 2017.

Learn more about CWD in Idaho at

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no reports of CWD infection in people. In the interest of safety, however, public health officials encourage hunters to follow these precautions and recommendations.

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