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

Idaho Fish and Game Commission adjusts hunting seasons in wake of CWD, EHD

Whitworth students Hannah Duncan and Nate Beine show off the chronic wasting disease check sheet on Oct. 16.  (Eli Francovich/The Spokesman-Review)
Whitworth students Hannah Duncan and Nate Beine show off the chronic wasting disease check sheet on Oct. 16. (Eli Francovich/The Spokesman-Review) Buy this photo
By Eric Barker The Lewiston Tribune

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently approved proposed changes to some deer and elk hunts in response to disease outbreaks in the Clearwater Region last year.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease swept through low-elevation areas of the region last summer and killed thousands of whitetail deer. Chronic wasting disease was detected in Game Management Unit 14 in October. It is the first time the fatal disease has been detected in Idaho.

In response to discovery of CWD, the commission approved expansion of hunts in the area that are designed to keep prevalence of the disease below 5% and to slow its geographic spread.

“This is the start of managing chronic wasting disease 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 measures that were recently approved:

The commission increased antlered mule deer controlled hunt tags from 180 to 380 in Unit 14, with the hunting season running from Oct. 10 to Nov. 20.

It approved a new controlled hunt with 180 “extra” antlerless tags for mule deer from Oct. 10 to Nov. 20 in Unit 14. “Extra” tags allow hunters to harvest another deer in addition to their regular or controlled hunt tag.

The commission added 250 “extra” antlered whitetail tags and 250 “extra” antlerless whitetail tags. Each hunt runs Oct. 10 to Nov. 20 in Unit 14.

Landowner tags will be offered in addition to the controlled hunt tags and based on the percentage of tags available in controlled hunt drawings.

Elk tags will increase from 50 tags to 80 tags in landowner permission hunt No. 2165 in controlled hunt 14-1. In addition, the southern boundary of the hunt unit will be extended about 3 miles.

Commissioners also mandated CWD testing for deer, elk and moose taken in Units 14 and 15.

Commissioners eliminated 1,500 controlled hunt tags for antlerless whitetail deer in response to the EHD outbreak that killed an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 animals. The reductions include 200 youth tags in hunt 8-1X, 350 in hunt 8-2X, 350 in hunt 8A-1X, 300 in 10A-1X and 300 in hunt 11A-1X.

Fish and Game officials discovered six cases of CWD in deer and elk in Unit 14 last fall and winter. Testing showed the amount of disease – or prevalence – is estimated to be less than 2% for deer and likely even lower in elk. According to the department, research from other states has shown that keeping the prevalence rate less than 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 expand 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, CWD is found in 29 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces, including neighboring states 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 Zone prohibit the feeding of deer and elk and forbid the removal of the heads or spinal columns of deer and elk, including salvaged road-killed animals.

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