Deer

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?

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.

Senators from across the country and on both sides of the aisle have introduced a bill to tackle a problematic illness of deer, elk and moose.

It's called chronic wasting disease. Like so-called "mad cow," it’s a prion disease, meaning that it is not caused by viruses or bacteria, but instead by aberrant proteins in the nervous system.

Corinna Riginos

The deadliest animal in the U.S. isn’t a grizzly bear, a mountain lion or even a western diamondback rattlesnake. It’s a deer. More than 200 Americans are killed each year on our nation’s roads hitting or swerving to avoid this seemingly harmless animal. Around 30,000 or so are injured.

One group of scientists trying to reduce those numbers ended up finding a solution by chance.

Chris Pawluk / Flickr

Animal-car collisions are a real problem in Idaho. In one short section of Idaho 21 near Boise, 77 deer and elk were hit by cars in 2016. The Idaho Transportation Department will discuss the issue Wednesday and take a cue from how Banff National Park in Canada solved its wildlife mortality problem.