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21 samples of 375 positive for chronic wasting disease

by JENNIFER BRUNS/Contributing Writer
| March 23, 2023 1:00 AM

Fish and Game continues work to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease. A total of 375 deer and eight elk have been removed from the Slate Creek drainage as of March 19. So far, of the hundreds of samples sent to the lab, 21 samples have come back positive for CWD. Wildlife staff expect to have more sample results back from the lab within the next week or so.

CWD was found for the first time in Idaho in the Slate Creek area in 2021. Because chronic wasting disease is a highly contagious, always fatal wildlife disease without a known cure, "we need to act now," said Regional Wildlife Manager Jana Ashling. "If we were to wait, the disease will spread farther, and we certainly want to contain this as much as possible."

To contain the deer, a bait station is placed on private property to attract deer in Nut Basin near White Bird. A shooter will wait for deer to approach where the animal can be safely shot and removed.

"This has been an outstanding effort and I am proud of our crew," Ashling said. "A project as large as this one would not be possible without the cooperation of several conservation-minded local landowners. We also appreciate the partnership between Fish and Game staff, Wildlife Services, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. We wouldn't be able to accomplish this project without all of these partners working together."

Crews also process meat from each deer. After meat is processed, it is carefully labeled and placed in separate locations to cool. Each animal is marked with an individual number code and GPS coordinates to keep track of each CWD sample. Meat that tests negative for CWD will be donated to individuals in need.

During a meeting March 16, Fish and Game commissioners authorized the expansion of the project to get deer for CWD testing from adjacent areas, including in Unit 18 across the Salmon River from Slate Creek, to the immediate south of Slate Creek in John Day Creek and to the north in a small portion of McKenzie Creek.

For information about this project, contact the Clearwater Regional office at 208-799-5010.

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Jennifer Bruns is a conservation educator from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.