A national surveillance program that encourages states to exchange information on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) cases has proved its worth in an incident involving an Idaho deer hunter.

The Idaho resident hunted in Wyoming, killing a mule deer which he brought back to eastern Idaho. The hunter submitted tissue from the deer in a voluntary surveillance program operated by Wyoming Game and Fish.

When indicators of CWD was found in the deer, Wyoming authorities notified the hunter and Idaho Fish and Game.

Idaho big game manager Brad Compton said the department had made contact with the hunter and found out where he had disposed of the deer carcass. A Fish and Game biologist was assigned December 20 to retrieve the carcass for disposal. Compton noted that Fish and Game will continue to make every reasonable effort to “minimize the risk to our deer and elk populations.” While Idahoans have been bringing home deer and elk killed in Wyoming for years, the surveillance program enables Idaho to increase its vigilance in preventing the disease.

CWD affects the brains and nervous systems of deer and elk. It is believed to be caused by an errant protein called a prion.

Wyoming has known about CWD in certain deer herds for more than 30 years. Idaho has so far never detected the disease in any deer or elk but has increased its surveillance dramatically in recent years. Idaho Fish and Game employees sample deer in check stations for CWD and look for it in animals killed outside hunting seasons, such as roadkills. Scrutiny is most intense along the Idaho -Wyoming border.

Though CWD has drawn much attention from hunters and wildlife authorities in recent years, the World Health Organization has said that no connection to human disease has been made.

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