WDFW invites public comment on rule making to offer incentives for chronic wasting disease testing


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) invites the public to attend a virtual hearing and submit input on a proposed rule change that would allow WDFW to offer an incentive to hunters who have their harvested deer and elk tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

CWD is a fatal illness of deer, elk and moose in North America, according to a WDFW press release. It spreads among animals through bodily fluids and contaminated soil, food or water. To date, CWD has not been detected in Washington, but has been confirmed as close as Idaho and in 31 states and four Canadian provinces, the press release states.

WDFW has asked hunters to have harvested deer and elk tested for CWD since 2021 as part of the department’s disease surveillance program. This program’s goal is to detect the disease before it spreads widely throughout Washington, according to the release. To encourage more people to participate in the program, WDFW has teamed up with the Washington Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA) to create a special drawing for 100 free multi-season deer tags. The proposed random drawing is open to hunters who harvest within the target surveillance area (currently Eastern Region 1) and submit deer or elk samples for CWD testing, according to the press release. The proposed tags are funded in part by BHA, are separate from the regular multi-season deer tag drawing, and will not affect those draw odds. Pending results of the rule-making process, the drawing will take place in April.

In order for this drawing to happen, rule changes to Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 220-412-090 must be made. Amendments to the WAC are needed to create a subset of multi-season tags for WDFW’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Program. More information on this proposed rule change is on the WDFW website.

Part of the rule-change process is a virtual public meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24 via Zoom, to gather public input on the proposed rule. To join the meeting, go to  us06web.zoom.us/j/85276615269#success.

The public can also comment on the proposed rule by sending an email to cwd@publicinput.com or by leaving a voicemail message at 855-925-2801 and entering project code 3679. The public comment period closes Oct. 11. This rule change is expected to be decided on by WDFW Director Kelly Susewind on Oct. 25.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities.