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does fish and game have any idea what they are going to do about this growing tapeworm problem in our elk and deer.

We have killed five mule deer..ranging from unit 32, 36a 14 to 11a. They have all had the tapeworm larvae in them. It looks like a tomato seed. The two does we killed in 11a had the larvea and worms. What is causing this worm problem? It is extremely disappointing to pay for all the tags and fees, gas and ammo and time to go hunt for food to fill your freezer and then you can't eat it because it's full of worms.

Answer

In general, tapeworm cysts that are found in the muscles of deer, elk and moose in Idaho are Taenia krabbei.  This tapeworm has a life cycle in which the adults occur in the intestine of coyotes and wolves, eggs pass in the feces of the carnivore, which are eaten by grazing animals, especially members of the deer family.  The eggs hatch in the rumen and migrate through the body until they get to the muscles where they encyst (cystercerci).  If the cysts are eaten by a carnivore, the larvae tapeworm in the cyst emerges and attaches to the intestine of the carnivore and develops into an adult tapeworm. IDFG has documented the cystercerci of this tapeworm in mule deer in most of the southern parts of Idaho, with some lower prevalence in central and northern Idaho. 

In general, IDFG advises that if the cysts are not too numerous, that they be trimmed out and the meat cooked well before consuming.  The cysts do not pose a human health concern as the tapeworm does not develop in humans. 

Carcass trimmings should not be fed to domestic dogs or cats, as they will become infected with the adult tapeworm.  If the cysts are too numerous to trim out, please consult with your local IDFG officer or regional office about condemning and surrendering the carcass and the possibility of a new tag.