Idaho Incentive Program to Increase CWD Sampling
Collecting Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) samples is really nothing new for the staff of the Upper Snake Region. For over six years they have been sampling wild ungulates to check if the disease has spread to Idaho. This year a little honey has been added to sweeten the pot, so hunters will be more likely to have harvested animals checked out.
While IDFG will continue to collect CWD samples at check stations across the Upper Snake Region and at certain taxidermists and meat processing plants, a new option and incentive program is being tried out.
For every CWD sample collected, the hunter turning it in will be entered into a raffle for a gift certificate to Sportsman's Warehouse. There will be one first prizewinner worth $300 and four others valued at $50. Hunters can have samples drawn at the Sage Junction or Hillview check stations on weekends during the hunting season or they can bring their mule deer, elk, or moose to the IDFG Regional Office in Idaho Falls at any time between 8AM-5PM weekdays to have CWD samples taken and be entered into the drawing. The IDFG Office is located at 4279 Commerce Circle in the St. Leon Business Park and can be reached at 208-525-7290 for directions.
According to Upper Snake Regional Wildlife Manager Daryl Meints, "In order for the samples to be useable it is critical that we get the animal within 48 - 72 hours of it being harvested!" Each year the Upper Snake Region collects about 500 CWD samples, hopefully this incentive program will help to increase that number.
Even though CWD has never been detected in Idaho since testing began in 1997, a moose in Star Valley, Wyoming was found to have CWD in 2008. While hunters are usually eager to get results about CWD, the current process still takes months to return an answer. Theoretically, smart food handling and cooking practices can help to almost entirely eliminate the risk of even eating an animal that may test positive for CWD. Organs such as the brain and spinal cord are where the highest risk for CWD transmittal occurs, fortunately these are not parts of wild animals that people normally consume or even handle.
To learn more about CWD and the efforts being taken by IDFG to protect Idaho's wild ungulates, go to the IDFG website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/wildlife/manage_issues/cwd.cfm