A white-tailed buck harvested in southern Liberty County was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease.
In addition, a mule deer doe harvested within the CWD positive area in Carbon County was found to be suspect for CWD.
The lab at Colorado State University is running a confirmation test, with results expected next week.
The suspect deer 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, the CWD-positive area has been expanded to include all of Liberty County and FWP is now including all of HD 400 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.
FWP has notified the hunters who submitted the suspect samples. Though the samples are considered suspect at this point, it is very rare that a suspect sample isn’t ultimately found positive. Therefore, FWP is moving forward as if both deer will ultimately be determined positive for CWD.
“Though this is disappointing news, it’s not a surprise,” said Gary Bertellotti, FWP’s Region 4 supervisor. “By expanding our surveillance efforts to include all of hunting district 400, we’re really emphasizing the need to get animals sampled from this area and the rest of our surveillance area.”
What hunters need to know
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)
- 223 at the Teton River (Nov. 3, 7 and 11)
- Hunters can also bring animals into the Havre and Glasgow offices during the week
- Great Falls office during the week
- South of Hall
- South of Phillipsburg
CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is part of a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). TSEs are caused by infectious, mis-folded prion proteins, which cause normal prion proteins throughout a healthy animal’s body to mis-fold, resulting in organ damage and eventual death.
CWD is a slow-moving disease. However, left unmanaged, it could result in long-term population declines within affected herds. All the states and provinces that border Montana, other than Idaho and British Columbia, have found CWD in their wild deer, elk and moose. The closest positive to Montana was in Wyoming, about 8 miles south of the Montana border and less than 50 miles southeast of where Montana’s suspect deer was harvested.
Though there is no evidence CWD is transmissible to humans, it is recommended to never ingest meat from animals that appear to be sick or are known to be CWD positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters who have harvested a deer, elk, or moose from a known CWD-infected area have the animal tested prior to consuming it. If hunters harvest an animal that appears to be sick, the best thing to do is contact FWP and have the animal inspected.
Some simple precautions should be taken when field dressing deer, elk or moose:
- Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when field dressing.
- Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
- Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
- Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove all of these parts.)
CWD was discovered in Montana in 2017. FWP is carrying out surveillance and management of the disease according to the agency’s CWD management plan.
For more information, including maps, detailed information on the disease and to look at test results, go online to fwp.mt.gov/CWD.