Idaho Fish and Game works to keep deadly deer disease out of state

Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic Wasting Disease sample station in Bonners Ferry
Copyright: KXLY 4 News Now

BONNERS FERRY, Idaho– For more than a decade, Cody Schuyleman has been hunting with his family. He said he got into it at a young age as a way to bond with his family and also to provide them with meat.

His family went hunting on Saturday and his dad brought their deer to a checking station at Bonners Ferry to help wildlife experts test for the chronic wasting disease.

Idaho Fish and Game is working to make sure a deadly disease affecting deer in Montana doesn’t make its way across state borders. It’s called chronic wasting disease and it affects deer neurologically.

The department says chronic wasting disease is a threat to big game animals and will then hurt hunting opportunities for hunters.

Testing for it isn’t anything new. Every year, Idaho Fish and Game samples 150 to 300 deer to make sure it’s not infecting the animals in the state. They test them by cutting out the lymph nodes in the deer.

Testing helps wildlife experts prepare for what to do if and when it does get there.

“We would want to try and get a better understanding of how widespread it is in the local population within that area around where that positive detection came from,” said Micah Ellstrom, a regional wildlife manager with Idaho Fish and Game.

The disease is spread through a lot of ways, including deer-to-deer. Ellstrom says it’s not transmittable to humans.

Still, hunters should not eat meat from animals that have been infected with chronic wasting disease.

Even though it’s not in Idaho, fish and game experts are still trying to be proactive. That means hunters like the Schuyleman family can keep doing what they love.

“It’s really positive. I feel like these game check stations are a good way to go about that,” Schuyleman said.

Idaho Fish and Game will continue to ramp up chronic wasting disease sampling. They will continue through this weekend and next weekend. Hunters can also drop off samples at any of their offices.

It takes about four to six weeks for samples to come back, and if chronic wasting disease is found in a hunter’s animal, the department will reach out immediately with what to do. Ellstrom says they can help hunters dispose meat if needed.

Here are the check stations in North Idaho:

  • Priest River: Along state highway 57
  • St. Maries: South on state highway 3
  • Bonners Ferry: 3-mile weigh station

More information can be found here.

RELATED: Tips on how to create positive hunting experiences for kids from Idaho Fish and Game