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‘High probability’ that Chronic Wasting Disease will spread to Idaho, according to officials


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POCATELLO — A deadly disease known to affect the central nervous system and brain of elk, deer and moose may be making its way to Idaho.

Twenty-two deer have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in Montana, and cases were also found in Teton County, Wyoming.

CWD is passed from animal to animal, or from environment to animal. Because animals move between states, Idaho Fish and Game biologist Matt Pieron says there a “high probability” disease will spread to Idaho.

Idaho Fish and Game has developed rules to try to prevent or slow the spread of the disease. Hunters who go to an area where there are confirmed cases of CWD cannot bring spinal cords or brain material from animals they kill back to Idaho. Fish and Game also implemented a ban on urine-based lures.

If the disease does appear in Idaho, Fish and Game says the first priority is tracking the disease, and figuring out how many animals have it.

“There have been a number of research studies conducted in other states that indicate that once a prevalence rate gets above a certain percentage in your population, you will actually begin to see population decline,” says Pieron, “There are indications that if prevalence rates get to a certain level, that over the long term, it can cause…basically a local extinction of a population.”

According to Idaho Fish and Game, there are no documented cases of humans contracting CWD.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people do not eat meat from any animal that has tested positive for CWD.