White-tailed deer buck

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks says 18 deer from across the state have tested positive for chronic wasting disease. 

FWP says the positive deer were from areas where CWD was previously known to exist, including hunting districts in Madison, Liberty, Daniels and Gallatin counties. All but two of the deer were hunter-harvested animal, and all but one were white-tailed deer.

This year FWP says it will be using the Montana Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Bozeman as the primary testing facility for CWD. Hunters who submit samples should have results back within three weeks. Results will be posted online as in past years. Hunters will be notified directly if they have a positive animal.

FWP says the positive deer came from the following hunting districts: 322, 309, 640, and 401.

CWD is a contagious neurological disease that infects deer, elk and moose. It is always fatal and there is no known cure. It was first found in Montana in 2017. It is not known to infect humans, but it is strongly recommended that people not eat meat from infected animals and to have their harvested animals tested before eating them if they were taken from an area where CWD is known to exist.

FWP is continuing CWD surveillance this year in priority surveillance areas located in northwest, southwest and eastern Montana. Hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in these areas are asked to voluntarily submit a sample from their animal to help gather additional data for that area. FWP says the information will be used to help inform the best management strategies for the affected hunting districts.

FWP will cover the cost of testing hunter-harvested animals for CWD. Hunters should look online for information on how to take a sample themselves and submit it for testing or bring animals by an FWP regional office for sampling. FWP will have CWD check stations in the priority surveillance areas. Sample submission is voluntary throughout Montana. For more information on these surveillance areas and how to submit samples for testing, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.

A critical change this year is the state will not have transportation restriction zones, as it did last year. Instead, to better prevent the spread of CWD, hunters are required to properly dispose of their carcass waste. The Fish and Wildlife Commission has directed hunters to choose one of two options for carcass waste disposal:

  • Any waste carcass parts removed from the field, particularly brain, eyes, spleen, lymph glands, and spinal cord material, must be bagged and disposed of in a landfill.
  • Leave all carcass waste at the kill site.

Dumping carcasses is illegal, unethical and can spread diseases, including chronic wasting disease. Proper carcass disposal is critical to protecting Montana’s herds.

Information via a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

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