BOISE, Idaho - The Idaho State Department of Agriculture and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game today announced that all 37 domestic elk that were destroyed last month tested negative for Chronic Wasting Disease. State and federal animal health officials - under the direction of State Veterinarian Dr. Bob Hillman - took the action after they learned that the Salmon area domestic herd had been exposed to CWD while on an elk farm in Colorado.
"This is a serious disease that could have devastating effects on Idaho's domestic and wild cervidae populations should it be introduced into Idaho. I am pleased that the mechanisms were in place to properly handle the incident and take the appropriate measures to ensure the disease is not introduced into our state," said Pat Takasugi, director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.
"It's good news for Idaho's wild elk and deer that the tests were negative," Fish and Game Director Rod Sando said. "But, to ease everyone's mind, the department will increase monitoring of big game herds around this elk ranch. Monitoring will also be increased around the state. This is one of those situations where we want to err on the side of caution. Our concern about this incident and the potential for introducing CWD into our wild herds is obviously lessened for the moment by these test results but it will not go away."
The 37 animals that were destroyed were shipped to Idaho in March. The remainder of the herd consists of 17 calves that were born in Idaho. Because all tests are negative, and in accordance with United States Department of Agriculture protocols, the owners will be allowed to keep the calves.
The department, acting under Idaho law and administrative rules, quarantined the herd on September 19 upon learning that the animals came from a game farm in Colorado that recently reported one case of Chronic Wasting Disease. CWD is a serious wildlife disease found in the wild elk and deer populations in one area encompassing several game management units in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. It causes unsteadiness, excessive slobbering, confusion and death.
The only way to determine if an animal has CWD is to destroy it and test a portion of the brain stem.
Monitoring for CWD is conducted on all domestic elk herds in Idaho. Testing of wild deer and elk has been done in Idaho for the last several years. No cases of the disease have been reported.