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Idaho Fish and Game takes first steps to call an emergency hunt

At the edge of the treeline a lone mule deer stands looking at the camera. In front of it is yellow grass laid flat.
Adam Cotterell
/
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Fish and Game and wildlife managers are planning an emergency hunt to understand how widespread chronic wasting disease is in Idaho’s deer population.

The motion recently passed by the commission has opened the door for the director to establish emergency hunts in areas where Idaho Fish and Game is looking to gather up to a thousand samples of mule deer and white tail.

The goal is to get samples taken from the lymph nodes or head of the harvested animals.

Right now there are only two documented cases of deer with chronic wasting disease found North and West of McCall.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said in a public meeting he wants to know if there are more.

“We don't know if this was the needle in the haystack that we found, or if it in fact exists on the landscape at a higher prevalence,” he said.

Chronic wasting disease attacks the nervous system of the infected animal. The illness can survive outside of the body in droppings, saliva and urine. It was detected in Idaho just last week.

Chief of Wildlife Management Tobey Boudreau said once it’s in an area, it’s not a matter of eradicating it, but managing the spread.

“We know that the disease gets into the soil and it can never be removed from the soil, as far as at least current science goes," Bourdreau said.

The CDC says there’s not yet any evidence that it can spread from deer to humans.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated a thousand new tags would be issued for the emergency hunt. That has been corrected to: up to a thousand samples.

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