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What hunters in Units 14-15 need to know about CWD management this fall

Idaho Fish and Game detected chronic wasting disease for the first time ever in Idaho last year in Unit 14 near White Bird. The Fish and Game Commission established Units 14-15 as a “CWD Management Zone,” which means hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose have to follow new rules that include mandatory CWD testing and restrictions on what parts of the animal they can remove from the area.

CWD MANAGEMENT ZONE – Units 14-15 – restrictions:

  • It is illegal to transport any carcass or part of a deer, elk, or moose out of Units 14 and 15, except quarters, boned meat, or cleaned skulls or skull caps
  • It is illegal to possess a or transport a full carcass or any part of a deer, elk, or moose taken from Units 14 or 15 in any part of the state outside of these units except quarters, boned meat, dried antlers, or cleaned and dried skulls or skull caps (see full list of exceptions).

CWD MANAGEMENT ZONE – Units 14-15 – requirements:

  • All deer, elk and moose must be tested for CWD.
  • Hunters may take a CWD sample (lymph nodes taken from the head) in the field, or bring the animal’s head to a check station, drop-off location, or designated regional office
  • Quarter or debone animal at kill site and leave gut piles and spine if traveling outside of Units 14 or 15.
  • If staying within Units 14 or 15, the spinal cords and heads must be disposed of in an approved solid waste landfill, dumpster or trash can that will be taken to an approved landfill.
  • Antlers should be removed in the field if the hunter is also taking a CWD sample in the field.
  • If heads are taken to a check station or Fish and Game office for CWD sampling, antlers will be removed by Fish and Game staff, cleaned and returned to hunters.
  • Animal heads will remain with Fish and Game and properly disposed of in an approved facility.

Rules for any hunter taking an animal to a taxidermist or meat processor:

  • The animal may be caped and taken to a taxidermist, but it may not leave Units 14 or 15 and must still be taken to Fish and Game staff for sampling.
  • Quarters or deboned meat may leave the site, but gut piles and spine should remain at the kill site.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Do I have to submit samples for CWD testing if I harvest an animal?

A: Yes. All hunters in Units 14 or 15 must submit either a sample or submit a head to have it sampled for CWD. 

Q: Can I bring the entire animal out of the field with me?

A: Only if it’s not leaving Unit 14 or 15.  Hunters who live in Unit 14 or 15, or who are taking the animal directly to a taxidermist in Unit 14 or 15, may bring the entire carcass out of the field. The spinal column may not leave Unit 14 or 15. 

Q: What about the head? Can I take that out of the field?

A: Under two circumstances, hunters can take the head out of the field. The head may come out if it will not be leaving Unit 14 or 15. The head may also come out if it is headed to a sampling site, either at a Fish and Game office , or a drop off site, such as a freezer or head barrel.

Q: After Fish and Game has sampled the animal’s head, can I keep the head?

A: No. If you bring the head out for sampling, the skull and brain matter will all be retained by Fish and Game and properly disposed of in a CWD approved dumpster. You may keep the antlers, or a cleaned and dried skull or skull cap. If you are at a Fish and Game office, the staff will help with skull capping and cleaning. 

Q: I dont have my CWD results back, what do I do with the bones and scraps from quarters from the animal I harvested in Unit 14 or 15?

A: If hunters leave the field with quarters, they should double-bag all bones and nonedible portions of the animal and dispose of them in a landfill when finished processing the meat.

Q: Can a hunter collect their own CWD samples?

A: Yes. Wear disposable gloves, and soak all knives used to collect samples in a 50% bleach solution for at least 10 minutes. Samples should be returned to a regional office, check station, or drop-off location as soon as possible of no later than 10 days from harvest.

Q: What happens if my harvested animal tests positive for CWD?

A: Fish and Game will contact the hunter to verify the location of harvest and provide instructions on how to dispose of the meat if they wish to do so.

Q: If my harvested animal tests positive for CWD, can I eat the meat?

Fish and Game relies on recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which states that there is currently no evidence that CWD in deer and elk is transmitted to humans. However, as a precaution, CDC recommends that people do not eat meat taken from an animal that tests positive for CWD.

Q: If my sample tests positive, will Fish and Game issue me a new tag?

A: The department will not routinely issue replacement tags or refunds for harvested animals testing positive for CWD.

Q: I live in Unit 14 or 15 and have lots of wildlife, can I still feed them?

A: No, feeding of deer, elk, moose, etc. in a CWD Management zone is not allowed. Winter feeding unnaturally concentrates wildlife, increasing the risk of spreading disease. 

Q: If I am a hunter in other units in Idaho, do I have to submit samples for CWD testing?

A: No. However, Fish and Game staff is monitoring for CWD throughout the state and appreciates any samples hunters provide, especially from animals harvested in adjacent units to Units 14 or 15. 

For more information about CWD management in Idaho, go to idfg.idaho.gov/CWD.