chronic wasting disease

M. W. Miller, Colorado Division of Wildlife / AP Photos

Five cases of chronic wasting disease were confirmed this spring in Montana, close to the Idaho panhandle. While not affecting humans, the disease means a horrible death for deer and elk. It’s similar to mad cow disease and there is no cure. What is it and how is Idaho Fish and Game trying to keep it out of the Gem State?

  • Chronic wasting disease gets closer to Idaho.
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Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

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.

A neurodegenerative illness called chronic wasting disease is spreading among deer and elk in our region. Now, researchers at Colorado State University say they’ve found a new way to study the disease -- and another indication that it might eventually become capable of sickening people.

Chronic wasting disease is crippling deer populations in the Mountain West, around the country and in bordering Canadian provinces. It's not a bacterium or a virus or even a fungus, but caused by something called a prion, a type of protein that all mammals have in their bodies.