This story has been updated to include Spokane County in the list of counties with expanded chronic wasting disease surveillance.
SPOKANE, Wash. - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFD) announced on Friday that it will be expanding its chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance program in eastern Washington's Region 1, which includes Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, Spokane and Whitman counties.
During this year's deer hunting season, WDFW staff will take samples from harvested deer and elk at voluntary check stations and talking to hunters to answer questions they might have about CWD.
CWD is a fatal illness for the animal family that includes deer, elk, moose and caribou. It is caused by mutated proteins known as prions, which can be spread between animals through feces, saliva, urine and other bodily fluids.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have not been any identified cases of CWD infection in people, but research shows the disease could pose a risk to people.
"While disease sampling is voluntary, we encourage hunters to have their deer or elk tested because most animals with CWD appear normal until the end stages of the disease,” said ungulate research scientist Dr. Melia DeVivo. “Without testing, animals infected with CWD could go undetected for months to years, spreading the disease to other animals”
You can find a list of eight voluntary hunter check stations on the WDFW website, as well as information on how to get your game tested for CWD in other ways.
CWD has not been detected in Washington, however it has been found in 30 states, including Idaho, and four Canadian provinces.
“We know that eastern Washington is a popular place for deer hunting, with hunters from all over the state coming here,” DeVivo said. “With Idaho being just across the border from where many people hunt, it is important that we test deer and elk to make sure CWD is not spreading to Washington.”