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Idaho Wildlife Officials Propose Animal Import Ban To Fight Disease

Heath Druzin
Boise State Public Radio
Elk in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, near the Idaho border. Chronic wasting disease is in all of Idaho's eastern neighbors and the Idaho Department of Fish And Game is proposing a ban on some wild animal imports to keep it out of the state.

Idaho Fish and Game wants to ban the import of most deer, elk and moose to keep at bay a disease that has been devastating deer herds in other parts of the country.

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is on Idaho’s doorstep, affecting animals in Wyoming, Montana and Utah. Closely related to mad cow disease, it ravages the brains of hoofed animals, like deer, and is fatal. 

So far, there have been no reported cases in Idaho, but herds in eastern Wyoming counties have reported the disease.


Wild animals imported from other states can introduce diseases, like CWD, says Toby Boudreau, chief of Idaho Fish and Game’s wildlife bureau.

“The Department of Fish and Game wants to do everything they can to prevent CWD from coming across our border,” Bourdeau says.


Last week, state Fish and Game commissioners voted unanimously for the import ban, though the state legislature must approve it. Lawmakers rejected a similar measure in 2016 over worries about effects on importing domestic animals, like cattle.


Boudreau says the latest proposal is worded to address those concerns.


The proposal would apply to white tail and mule deer, wild-origin elk and moose. Boudreau says most of the imports are for private owners who keep wildlife refuges on their land. The ban would not apply to domestic elk, which are regulated by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. Wild origin animals already imported into the state would also not be affected.

Follow Heath Druzin on Twitter @HDruzin

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

Heath Druzin was Boise State Public Radio’s Guns & America fellow from 2018-2020, during which he focused on extremist movements, suicide prevention and gun culture.