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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Washington wildlife officials surveying for CWD struggling to gather enough samples from hunters

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 10, 2021

Ed Mace, left, chats with Nate Beine and Hannah Duncan at a hunter check station Saturday near Deer Park.  (Eli Francovich/The Spokesman-Review)
Ed Mace, left, chats with Nate Beine and Hannah Duncan at a hunter check station Saturday near Deer Park. (Eli Francovich/The Spokesman-Review)

A Washington State effort to survey for Chronic Wasting Disease, a deadly neurological disease impacting deer and elk, has had a slow start this year. 

“Check stations are slow,” said Melia DeVivo, an ungulate research scientist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in an email. “We have collected a total of 245 CWD samples so far and those are a combination of hunter harvest, roadkill, and deer that died during the epizootic hemorrhagic disease/bluetongue outbreak. We are still far from reaching our goal of 1,200 samples for the fiscal year.”

So far WDFW has gotten back 90 samples, all of which have tested negative for CWD.

As to why WDFW is struggling to get the necessary number of samples, spokeswoman Staci Lehman said there are a number of probable reasons including fewer white-tailed deer due to disease outbreaks this summer, the removal of all general season antlerless hunting opportunities in District 2 (except for a reduced season for youth, and a general reduction in the number of antlerless permits and second tags offered in District 2.

“Many of our hunters that hunt white-tailed deer in the early season often hold off on smaller bucks hoping for better buck in the late season,” she said in an email. “Staff at check stations saw many hunters in hunter orange drive by and not stop. Many who did stop asked “So what is a hunter check station about?” and didn’t seem familiar with the concept. Not sure if that is because they are new hunters or have never hunted in an area with check stations before. So we may need to do some further hunter education on the importance of check stations for both WDFW and members of the public.”

This is the first time in a decade that WDFW has surveyed for CWD during the modern deer hunting season.

Collecting 1,200 samples would give WDFW a 95% chance of detecting CWD if 1% of the wild population is infected.

CWD has not been documented in Washington or Idaho, although it has been found in deer outside of Libby, Mont. in 2019

WDFW officials are asking anyone who hunts or salvages in GMUs 105 (Kelly Hill), 108 (Douglas), 111 (Aladdin), 113 (Selkirk), 117 (49 Degrees North), 124 (Mount Spokane), or 127 (Mica Peak) to bring their harvest to one of the following check-stations for CWD sampling:

  • Colville WDFW District Office, 755 S. Main Street, Colville
  • Chewelah, Intersection of Sand Canyon Road and Highway 395, DOT Gravel Lot
  • Deer Park Weigh Station, 65 N. Arlington Rd, Deer Park, Wash.
  • Ione, Tiger Store/Museum, 390372 State Route 20, Cusick, Wash.
  • Usk, Crossroads Restaurant, 421341 State Route 20, Usk, Wash.
  • Highway 2 Weigh Station - Across highway from Spokane Regional Solid Waste

The stations will be open Friday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Nov. 18 and 19 9:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Samples can also be collected Mondays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m. during the modern firearms season at:

  • WDFW Colville District Office, 755 S Main Street, Colville, Wash.
  • Spokane Regional Office, 2315 N Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, Wash.
  • Inland Northwest Wildlife Council 6116 N. Market St., Spokane (call 487-8552 to make an appointment)

Monitoring for chronic wasting disease still underway in Idaho Panhandle

Idaho Fish and Game continues to ask hunters to help in the on going effort to monitor for chronic wasting disease. IDFG staff will be collecting samples from deer, elk and moose at hunter check stations around the Panhandle as part of a statewide surveillance program for CWD.

Check stations will be operated Friday and Saturday and Nov. 20-21 from 10 a.m. to sunset at the following locations:

  • Priest River: along state highway 57
  • St. Maries: south on state highway 3
  • Bonners Ferry: 3-mile weigh station

Hunters can also collect and submit their own CWD samples or whole deer heads. Sample kits can be requested directly from Fish and Game by emailing your mailing address to:

Samples or heads can be placed into several freezers located across the region:

  • 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
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