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New chronic wasting disease case found near White Bird Idaho

Oct. 26, 2022 Updated Wed., Oct. 26, 2022 at 6:53 p.m.

A female mule deer makes its way down an embankment last spring. Idaho Fish and Game officials have documented another case of chronic wasting disease near White Bird. It marks the seventh time the disease has been detected in Game Management Unit 14 since the disease was first documented in Idaho last year and the first case this fall.  (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-R)
A female mule deer makes its way down an embankment last spring. Idaho Fish and Game officials have documented another case of chronic wasting disease near White Bird. It marks the seventh time the disease has been detected in Game Management Unit 14 since the disease was first documented in Idaho last year and the first case this fall. (Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-R)
By Eric Barker The Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON – Idaho Fish and Game officials have documented another case of chronic wasting disease near White Bird.

It marks the seventh time CWD has been detected in Game Management Unit 14 since the disease was first documented in Idaho last year and the first case this fall.

According to a Fish and Game news release, an employee of the agency found a dead white-tail doe along Slate Creek Road. The cause of the young deer’s death was not known.

The animal’s lymph nodes were submitted to a laboratory for testing and the results came back last week. The previous positive cases of the disease came from the same area. Slate Creek flows out of the Gospel Hump Wilderness Area and joins the Salmon River about halfway between White Bird and Lucile. It is part of Game Management Unit 14 that, along with Unit 15, has been declared a CWD Management Zone.

“We expected to see more positive animals from Unit 14 this year, so while not surprising, it’s an important reminder that chronic wasting disease is present here in Idaho,” State Wildlife Manager Rick Ward said in the news release. “We want to remind hunters they must not remove whole carcasses of deer, elk or moose from hunting units 14 and 15.”

Under the rules, hunters can remove the hind quarters, boned-out meat, dried antlers and cleaned and dried skulls or skull plates from animals harvested in the zones. They are also required to have their kills tested for the disease. A full list of CWD rules and other information is available at idfg.idaho.gov/cwd.

Those who violate the rules are subject to fines of as much as $1,000, six months in jail and as many as three years of hunting license revocation.

“We’re seeing more hunters at check stations than we’d like to see bringing full carcasses out of units 14 and 15,” assistant enforcement chief Brian Jack said in the news release. “That has resulted in several citations. The potential spread of CWD is a serious threat, and we want hunters to be aware that there are consequences if they fail to adhere to the rules of hunting in a CWD Management Zone.”

The disease has not been found elsewhere in Idaho but has been detected in 29 other states and four Canadian provinces. Researchers believe it can be spread by the movement of contaminated carcasses.

CWD, which is caused by misfolded proteins known as prions, is in the same family as mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and carries potential health concerns for hunters. It has never been documented to infect humans, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people not eat meat from animals with the disease.

Last year, following the detection of CWD in the area, the department instituted special CWD surveillance hunts and also collected samples from road-killed deer and elk in an effort to estimate the prevalence of the disease. The agency also collected samples from harvested deer and elk in other parts of the state and has submitted more than 1,000 for testing.

Meanwhile, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has boosted its own surveillance efforts and is running hunter-check stations throughout the fall season.

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