IDFG considering changes to hunting season to slow spread of chronic wasting disease

Chronic Wasting Disease
Credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Game

BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is considering changes to the upcoming hunting season in an effort to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease among deer. 

The changes are only being proposed for Unit 14, which is located between Cottonwood, south to the Riggins area. 

At this time, five deer and one elk have tested positive for CWD, a neurological disease that can cause these animals to lose weight and stumble. 

IDFG’s testing shows the prevalence of the disease is estimated to be less than two percent for deer and less likely in elk. Research from other states has shown that keeping the prevalence rate under five percent can stop, or slow, the spread of the disease. 

Structuring hunts to achieve lower densities of deer and younger age classes within herds has also been shown to slow the geographic spread of CWD and hold prevalence at current levels or lower. 

Below are the proposed changes: 

Increase mule deer harvest

Option 1: Increase antlered mule deer-controlled hunt tags from 180 to 400 tags with the hunting season running from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.

Option 2: Replace existing antlered controlled hunt (180 tags) with a general-season, antlered-only hunt from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.

Add antlerless mule deer hunt

Add new mule deer extra antlerless hunt with 200 tags from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20. “Extra tags” allow hunters to harvest an additional animal in addition to a regular or controlled hunt tag.

White-tailed deer extra tags

Option 1: In addition to the existing general season, either-sex whitetail hunt, add a new extra antlerless whitetail hunt with 250 tags, and a new whitetail, extra antlered tag with 250 tags. Each hunt would run Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.

Option 2: Extend the existing general, either-sex hunt from Oct. 10 – Dec. 31.

Increase elk tags

Increase elk tags in one landowner permission hunt in Controlled Hunt Unit 14-1 from 50 tags to 80 tags and extend the southern boundary of the hunt unit about 3 miles.

Those interested in providing feedback to IDFG can provide comments between February 22 and March 13. The commission is scheduled to decide on changes at its March 23-24 meeting in Boise. 

READ: Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife highly concerned about chronic wasting disease

READ: Deer in 24 states infected with chronic wasting disease