Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Fish and Game wraps up containment

by CONNOR LIESS/Contributing Writer
| April 6, 2023 1:00 AM

Fish and Game wildlife staff will continue to monitor the Slate Creek and surrounding areas for chronic wasting disease during the summer months and throughout the fall hunting season, but are winding down containment efforts for now.

Additional removal effort may be necessary again next spring depending on the number of samples that continue to come back positive and the number of deer that move back into the CWD focal areas.

Chronic wasting disease was found for the first time in Idaho in 2021 in the Slate Creek drainage within Unit 14.

Fish and Game staff, in conjunction with the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, made the tough decision to quickly limit the spread of this always fatal, highly contagious disease. A large-scale effort was initiated in the Slate Creek area that reduced deer densities in and around lower Slate Creek, the area of where positive detections have been concentrated. The goal is to reduce the potential of the disease to spread further into the population and across the landscape. The most effective way to achieve that is to reduce deer density at the source. Bait stations and shooting at night were allowed for this management action.

“As the fish and game agency for the state of Idaho, we are tasked to make these difficult decisions,” said regional wildlife manager Jana Ashling. “We know it is the right thing to do, but it isn’t easy. Everyone loves seeing deer. That’s why many people live in Slate Creek, because they love seeing wildlife. Many of our partnering landowners allowed us permission to take management action on their property. We know this was a sacrifice for them and we couldn’t do it without their cooperation.”

The project came to a close at the end of March and 24 animals tested positive for chronic wasting disease out of the total of 442 animals removed in the Slate Creek management area within unit 14. Results are still pending for some samples.

Each individually marked animal was carefully cared for throughout the entire process of skinning, butchering and storage. During the first round of meat dispersal, over 300 animals were donated to individuals and families in need.