IDAHO — At a special meeting, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission set temporary rules and designated Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zones in Unit 14 and 15, after two mule deer tested positive for CWD last month north of Riggins.
“The plan says once we get a detection then the next step is to move towards measuring the prevalence, and that is the percentage of the population, and then also accessing the geographic distribution of positive CWD,” Toby Boudreau, IDFG Chief of Wildlife said during the meeting.
Idaho is the 27th state to detect CWD, not including the four Canadian provinces that have already detected the disease in North America.
IDFG designated units 11A, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, and 23 as surveillance zones for CWD, and they will continue to ask hunters for samples from their harvested animals.
“That recommendation was based on, we have the star in the middle where we have the positive detection, and let's just include as many units as we can that we most likely have deer movement to and from," Boudreau said.
The Commission voted to approve the designation of Unit 14, where the two CWD positive mule deer were harvested, and Unit 15 as CWD Management Zones. Within these zones, IDFG Commission passed a temporary rule change stating that hunters can only transport skulls that do not contain brain or spinal tissue out of those units unless the hunter is bringing the head to an IDFG Office for sampling.
“In a CWD Management Zone if you harvest an animal you are not allowed to transport the spinal column out of that unit,” Ed Schriever, IDFG Director said.
So far, IDFG has taken 318 samples of deer and elk from CWD Surveillance Zones since July and sent them in for testing.
In total across the whole state, they've sent 1725 samples for testing and are awaiting the results for 392 of them. The two positives were from this sample group.
IDFG is currently working to get the rest of the samples tested to determine their sample size number, to then decide on future emergency hunting opportunities in these units.
"We are contemplating the need for additional hunting opportunities to increase the harvest to the minimum sample size required," Schriever said. "We don’t know what that number is yet because the hunts are still going on and we are still collecting samples but we know it won’t get us all the way there."
However, Boudreau said the goal is to at least get 200 samples per species from each unit.
“We are telling you there will be a need to establish additional hunting opportunities for both whitetail - does and bucks, and mule deer -does and bucks," Schriever said. "We don’t know what that looks like yet in both the number and the location where we will need them. We want them to be spread from across the area."
The Commission also voted to give the power to the Director to, "establish one or more emergency hunts in the area identified for increased sampling for CWD, subject to a maximum combined harvest of 1,000 mule deer and white-tailed deer and a limitation of these hunts to residents only; and a limitation of these hunts to residents only."
IDFG said that they will be providing weekly updates on CWD as more samples continue to come back from the Colorado State University lab.
“So that our next discussion is about the prevalence and the geographic distribution of this disease and so that we can describe to you with a high degree of certainty, and so you will have the information at hand to talk about what management we might implement to deal with CWD moving forward," Schriever said.
"It would be nice to say that we could have a targeted removal, but the highest likelihood is the detection of more deer than just a couple and we are looking at long-term management," Boudreau added.
For more information or to stay up to date head to idfg.idaho.gov.