Idaho Fish & Game schedules CWD surveillance hunts
IDFG photo A healthy Idaho whitetail buck was caught on camera chasing does. In an effort to monitor the health of Idahos deer herds, IDFG is asking Panhandle hunters to voluntarily participate in a program that collects deer tissue samples at check stations as a precautionary measure to stem chronic wasting disease. No records of CWD exist in idaho, but it has been reported in some neighboring states.
| December 7, 2021 1:00 AM
Idaho Fish and Game is offering 1,527 deer tags for Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance hunts, which are specialized deer hunts designed for Fish and Game officials to gather 775 samples for CWD testing. There are requirements for hunters who participate in these hunts, which are limited to Idaho residents, except nonresidents who possess an Idaho lifetime hunting license.
Hunters need to understand the process in which the CWD surveillance tags will be distributed:
• CWD surveillance hunt tags will be sold only at Fish and Game regional offices, and at the MK Nature Center at 600 S. Walnut St. in Boise. Tags are $10 each, and no refunds or rainchecks will be given.
• All hunters must buy in-person and cannot purchase tags for another person. The only exception is that a tag can be purchased by a parent on behalf of their minor child.
• Hunters who have otherwise held deer tags, including extra deer tags, are eligible to purchase tags for the CWD surveillance hunts.
• CWD surveillance hunts may close before the closing date listed on the tag, or could be extended, depending on how many CWD samples are collected. People can track how many samples have been taken in each hunt at on the CWD surveillance hunts webpage.
• Hunters who buy a tag will receive an information packet, and they must read and understand all the requirements for the hunts, some of which are included below.
Public-land-only hunt tags will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting on Tuesday, Dec. 7 starting at 10 a.m. MST. People can see what tags are available on the CWD surveillance hunts webpage.
Each public-land-only tag is only valid for one species and one gender, i.e. mule deer or white-tailed deer, antlerless only or antlered only, and only on public land in the hunt area in which the tag is valid. Hunters are only allowed to harvest adult deer, no fawns.
Private-land-only hunt tags will be sold starting Wednesday, Dec. 8 starting at 10 a.m. MST. People can see what tags are available on the CWD surveillance hunts webpage.
Anyone buying these tags must be a qualified landowner who meets the acreage requirement, or a qualified landowner can notify a Fish and Game regional office and designate a hunter, or hunters, who have permission to hunt on their land. Landowners who are interested in participating, or designating tags can call 208-799-5010.
Each private-land-only tag is only valid for one species and one gender, i.e. mule deer or white-tailed deer, antlerless only or antlered only, and only on private land, for which permission has been granted, in the hunt area in which your tag is valid. Hunters are only allowed to harvest adult deer, no fawns.
CWD surveillance hunt requirements
All hunters participating in the CWD surveillance hunts must abide by the following requirements:
All harvested deer taken during the CWD surveillance hunts must be tested for CWD with no exceptions. Fish and Game will take samples from deer heads at Lewiston and McCall regional offices, and other Fish and Game regional offices, and at designated check stations near the hunt locations.
Hunters must present the head of any harvested deer at a check station or regional office within 24 hours. Fish and Game will contact any hunter whose animal tests positive for CWD.
Hunters must quarter or debone a harvested deer at the kill site and leave everything there except the head and edible meat, which includes the meat from hindquarters as far down as the hock, meat of the front quarters as far down as the knee and meat along the backbone which is the loin and tenderloin.
Hunters must record the GPS location where a deer is harvested. (A smartphone will work for this.)
To learn more go to the CWD surveillance hunt requirements webpage.
Why is Fish and Game holding these hunts?
Fish and Game set the CWD surveillance hunts to determine if more deer are infected with the disease, and if the disease is present beyond the immediate area of the initial CWD detections in two mule deer bucks in the Slate Creek area north of Riggins in October.
“I appreciate that hunters are willing to help us gather CWD test samples through these hunts. We understand there will be some inconveniences, but it would be difficult get these important CWD samples without their participation,” Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever said.
He also stressed the surveillance hunts are strictly to gather information and do not reflect a new strategy for long-term CWD management.
“While harvesting deer to get test samples removes more deer than what would have occurred during our regularly scheduled hunts, the intent is not to reduce deer densities in response to CWD, it’s to understand what we’re dealing with,” Schriever said.
Although new to Idaho, CWD is found in 27 U.S. states and four Canadian provinces. CWD was detected in Wyoming in the mid 1980s and first detected in Montana in 2017. Learn more about CWD in Idaho at idfg.idaho.gov/cwd.
Roger Phillips is the public information supervisor for Idaho Department of Fish & Game.