Magic Valley Hunters Asked to Test Deer and Elk for Chronic Wasting Disease
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX)-Hunters in the Magic Valley who harvest deer or elk this season are being asked to test the animals for chronic wasting disease. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said biologists will be focusing on samples taken from animals harvested in hunting units that boarder Utah. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), chronic wasting disease (CWD) is similar to mad cow disease and is known as a prion disease. CWD was first found in Idaho deer in 2021 in the central part of the state near Grangeville. To date, there has only been confirmed cases of CWD in Idaho County.There is no cure for the neurological disease that also impacts moose. Idaho Fish and Game says not all hunters who harvest a deer or elk need to have them tested. The agency is focusing testing on units 54, 55, 56, and 57. Samples are taken from the animal's lymph nodes or from tissued at the base of the brain. Idaho Fish and Game said hunters can get free test kits to extract the lymph nodes themselves or drop off samples at specific areas. Hunters can find special freezers at the Rock Creek General Store, Rogerson Service Station, Farmer's Market in Oakley, and the Malta Fuel Depot.
The heads of the animal must be deposited in the freezers, antlers can be removed. CWD testing cannot be done on meat from the animal. Tests results take more than a month to come back, according to Idaho Fish and Game.
The CDC has not had any confirmed reports of people getting sick from eating meat from an infected animal, however it doesn't recommend that the meat be eaten. In some animals it can take more than a year for symptoms of drastic weight loss, stumbling, and other symptoms to develop, according to the CDC. A recent CDC data map shows CWD is most prevalent in Wyoming and found in parts of Montana, Utah, northern Colorado, western Kansas, and several other midwestern states along with some eastern states.
For more information on testing you can contact the Magic Valley Regional Office in Jerome at 208-324-4359.