Chronic Wasting Disease is a wildlife illness similar to Mad Cow Disease. It’s rooted itself in the Mountain West and is thinning herds throughout the region.
Nevada and Idaho are the only states in our region with no confirmed cases of the highly contagious and fatal wildlife infection. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made it there.
Bryan Richards is a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He says cases of chronic wasting disease were recently confirmed in the northwestern corner of Montana, just a stone’s throw away from Idaho. And it’s also moving west from Utah.
"You don’t get a number of cases right away. Disease progresses quite slowly," Richards said. "So is there a possibility that another pocket of undetected disease exists in one of the Western states like Idaho and Nevada? Yeah, we certainly couldn’t rule it out."
To help fight the spread of the disease, Idaho and Nevada lawmakers have passed bans on bringing certain carcasses from out of state. And wildlife officials in Nevada have begun setting up biological check stations for hunters bringing items, like butchered meat or mounted heads into their state.
You can also read more about Chronic Wasting Disease, in Bent Out Of Shape, a series from the Mountain West News Bureau.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.