A white-tailed deer (copy)

Idaho has set special hunting seasons to gauge the spread of chronic wasting disease among deer.

LEWISTON, Idaho — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has designated a chronic wasting disease management zone in north-central Idaho, allowing hunts to kill up to 1,000 deer to determine the extent of the disease.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the decision Monday allows Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever to establish the emergency hunts that will target a mix of whitetails and mule deer of both sexes.

Planning for the hunts is in progress. The hunts are designed to help wildlife officials determine the prevalence and geographic area of the disease. The hunts aren't intended to contain the disease, though the commission could in the future authorize such hunts.

“That will be the commission’s decision and it will be informed by the data we are collecting now,” Schriever said.

Two mule deer bucks killed near Lucile last month tested positive for chronic wasting disease. It’s the first time the contagious and fatal neurological disorder has been detected in the state.

Chronic wasting disease can also infect elk, moose and caribou and has been confirmed in 25 states.

The disease found in game animals carries potential health concerns for hunters because it's in the same family as mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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