Attention big game hunters, new CWD rules could affect your hunting
Attention big game hunters, new CWD rules could affect your hunting

Deer hunters will see more mandatory CWD testing required for several hunting areas in central Idaho along the US 95/Highway 55 corridor south of Grangeville. Elk and moose are exempt from CWD testing requirements.

Fish and Game announces the following changes for the 2024 hunting season:

  • Unit 18 was added to Unit 14, which forms the CWD management zone for 2024. Unit 15 has been removed from the management zone because no positive animals were found there after extensive testing.
  • Anyone hunting in the CWD management zone must adhere to special hunting rules that are posted on the CWD website.
  • New for 2024: CWD testing is mandatory for mule deer and white-tailed deer in Units 18, 23, 24 and 32A and will continue in Unit 14, but does not apply to elk and moose harvested in any of these units. Units 23, 24 and 32A are not in the CWD Management Zone, so restrictions on transporting carcasses do not apply.
  • Mandatory CWD testing is no longer required for elk and moose, which are less susceptible to CWD than deer. However, Fish and Game continues to accept voluntary samples from deer, elk and moose harvested by hunters in all units.

Why the changes

To effectively control the spread of CWD, wildlife managers and hunters must adapt to changing conditions as the Department of Fish and Game collects new information based on testing about where the disease is and is not occurring.

“The ultimate goal is to slow or prevent the spread of CWD because it would negatively impact deer populations and hunting opportunities,” said Rick Ward, state wildlife manager with Fish and Game. “We want to keep CWD out of areas where it doesn’t occur, but we can’t do that if we don’t know exactly where the disease is.”

Doing nothing is not an option for Idaho

Hunters play a critical role in testing because there is no live test for CWD and annual testing across the state is required to obtain accurate and up-to-date information.

CWD is easier to control—and spreads more slowly—when only a small portion (less than 2 percent) of the herd is infected. Studies have shown that when prevalence exceeds 5 percent, CWD spreads much faster and to more animals, ultimately leading to smaller deer populations.

Active and adaptive CWD management This keeps the number of infected animals low, which usually results in less spread, fewer sick animals and more healthy deer for hunting.

What has been done so far

Wildlife managers are trying to minimize the spread of CWD by reducing deer density in the current hotspot of infection in and around Slate Creek in Unit 14, where it was first detected, and in a small portion of Unit 18 immediately adjacent to Slate Creek.

By Everly