Attention Big Game Hunters, New CWD Rules Could Affect Your Hunts

Attention Big Game Hunters, New CWD Rules Could Affect Your Hunts

Elk and moose will be exempt from mandatory CWD testing

Deer hunters will see more mandatory CWD testing requirements for several hunting units in central Idaho along the U.S. 95/Highway 55 corridors south of Grangeville. Elk and moose will be exempt from mandatory CWD testing.

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

  • Unit 18 was added to Unit 14, which makes up the CWD Management Zone for 2024. Unit 15 was removed from the Management Zone because no positive animals have been found there after extensive testing.
  • People hunting in CWD Management Zone must abide by special hunting rules, which can be seen on the CWD webpage.
  • New for 2024, CWD testing is mandatory in Units 18, 23, 24, and 32A for mule deer and white-tailed deer and continues in Unit 14, but does not apply to elk and moose taken in any of these units. Units 23, 24, and 32A are not within the CWD Management Zone, so carcass transportation restrictions do not apply.
  • Mandatory CWD testing no longer applies to elk and moose, which are less susceptible to CWD than deer. However, Fish and Game will still accept voluntary samples from hunter-harvested deer, elk, and moose in any unit.

Why the changes

Effective management of CWD spread requires wildlife managers and hunters to adapt to changing conditions as Fish and Game gathers new information about where the disease is – and is not – based on testing.

“The ultimate goal is to slow, or prevent, the spread of CWD because it will negatively affect the deer populations and hunting opportunities,” Fish and Game’s State Wildlife Manager Rick Ward said. “We want to keep CWD out of units where it’s not present, but we can’t do that if we don’t know exactly where the disease is.”

Doing nothing isn’t an option for Idaho

Hunters play a critical role in testing since there is no live test for CWD, and getting accurate and current information requires annual testing statewide.

CWD is more manageable – and spreads slower – when only a small fraction (less than 2 percent) of the herd is infected. Research has shown if prevalence exceeds 5 percent, CWD spreads much faster and to more animals, which eventually leads to smaller deer populations.

Active and adaptive CWD management that keeps the number of infected animals low typically results in reduced spread, fewer sick animals and more healthy deer available for hunters.

What’s been done so far

Wildlife managers are trying to minimize CWD’s spread by reducing deer densities in the current hot spot of infection in and around Slate Creek in Units 14 where it was initially detected, as well as a small portion of Unit 18 immediately adjacent to Slate Creek