Health

Chronic Wasting Disease confirmed in deer harvested in 2 MT counties

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Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is reporting that second tests on tissue samples from a white-tailed buck harvested in southern Liberty County and a mule deer doe harvested within the CWD-positive area in Carbon County came back positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.

A lab at Colorado State University confirmed the tests.

The whitetail in Liberty County was harvested in hunting District 400 but outside both the current CWD-positive area and the 2018 priority surveillance area, which includes the northern half of Liberty County.

As a result, FWP expanded the CWD-positive area to include all of Liberty County. All of HD 400 is now included in the 2018 CWD surveillance effort.

The suspect deer in HD 575 was harvested northeast of Joliet in a current CWD-positive area, which encompasses Carbon County, east of U.S. Highway 212 and the Roberts-Cooney Road.

Information for hunters

With FWP establishing all of Liberty County as a CWD positive area, hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose within the county must adhere to the established Transport Restriction Zone (TRZ) rules, which means hunters cannot move brain or spinal column tissue outside of the TRZ. Hunters harvesting a deer within the expanded Liberty County positive area are also encouraged to have their animals tested prior to consuming the meat.

The TRZ for the Liberty County CWD positive area is all of Liberty, Hill and Toole Counties.

Hunters also need to be aware that by expanding the priority surveillance efforts to include all of HD 400, FWP is relying on collecting more samples from the area to determine CWD prevalence among the deer population and potential distribution of the disease. This information is critical for FWP in developing a plan for managing the disease.

HD 400 and neighboring HD 401 are unique in that they both have three-week deer seasons as opposed to the standard five-week season typical in the state.

FWP would like hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose within the priority surveillance area, which includes the Hi-Line from the Blackfeet Reservation to the North Dakota border and HDs 210, 212 and 217 in western Montana, to submit the animals for CWD testing. This can be done by visiting surveillance area check stations, which are open on weekends, or by contacting or visiting the FWP regional office in Great Falls at 406-454-5840, Glasgow at 406-228-3700, Havre at 406-265-6177, Missoula at 406-542-5500, or Billings at 406-247-2940 during the week.

Check station locations that will sample for CWD:

  • Scobey (first half of season)
  • Glasgow (second half of season)
  • Hwy. 223 at the Teton River (Nov. 3, 7 and 11)
  • Malta
  • Hunters can also bring animals into the Havre and Glasgow offices during the week
  • Laurel
  • Chester
  • Shelby
  • Great Falls office during the week
  • South of Hall
  • South of Phillipsburg

There currently is no convincing evidence that the agent of CWD affects humans. However, public health officials recommend that human exposure to the CWD agent be avoided as they continue to evaluate any potential risk. Research indicates that it is unlikely that direct transmission of CWD from infected animals to humans occurs. However, the similarities between CWD, mad cow disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease are cause for concern, and appropriate precautions should be taken with harvested animals. Hunters should not harvest animals that appear sick, nor should they eat meat from suspect animals.

Animals that are suspected of having CWD should not be eaten. If you harvest an animal and are unsure whether it is safe to eat, contact your local FWP staff for guidance soon after the animal is harvested.

David Sherman reporting for MTN News

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