Libby Chronic Wasting Disease Detection Incident Command Team Update
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: August 2, 2019

Through Aug. 1, samples from five white-tailed deer in the Libby area have tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The first detection, which occurred in late May inside city limits, marked the first time that CWD was found west of the Continental Divide in the wild.

As of Aug. 1, samples from 62 animals (57 white-tailed, four mule deer, one moose) in and around Libby have been submitted for CWD testing. Of those, 45 were collected from road-killed incidents. Results are pending for 28 samples.

Incident Response Plan

FWP has established the Libby CWD Management Zone, which encompasses roughly 10 miles around the detection sites. Within this Management Zone, the goal is to identify the prevalence and distribution of CWD. To do that, FWP is working closely with the City of Libby and Lincoln County to develop a CWD Response Plan, which will involve sampling deer in this area. Since the initial detection occurred, FWP has been working with the City of Libby, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Department of Transportation and the Lincoln County Landfill to collect symptomatic deer or road-killed deer for sampling.

Following the guidelines in the Montana CWD Management Plan, FWP works to keep prevalence low where CWD exists and prevent its spread by increasing harvest where possible, targeted removal in areas around detections, and minimizing large groupings of deer.

On July 15, the Libby City Council approved a resolution authorizing Libby City Police, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and Montana FWP personnel to harvest and collect for sampling deer from public property for the purposes of testing for CWD. This testing will help FWP identify the prevalence and distribution of CWD in the area. FWP will begin collecting and sampling deer using clover traps this fall.

FWP is finalizing details of a Special CWD hunt in the Libby area this fall. FWP will sell 600 white-tailed deer antlerless B licenses in the Libby CWD Management Zone, which includes portions of Hunting Districts 100, 103, and 104. The hunt will occur at the same time as the archery and general hunting season and follow the same regulations for dates and weapon restrictions (i.e. you must use archery equipment during the archery season).

The Special CWD B licenses will go on sale at 8 a.m., Aug. 19, 2019. Additional details are forthcoming.

All deer, elk and moose harvested within the Libby CWD Management Zone, including any harvested with a general license and/or a Libby Special CWD Hunt B license, must be submitted for sampling. A map of the CWD Management Zone will be available online, at FWP Region 1 headquarters or by request (contact Dillon Tabish at 751-4564 or Dillon.Tabish@mt.gov).

During archery (Sept. 7-Oct. 20), youth, deer only (Oct. 17-18) and moose season (Sept. 15 until start of general deer and elk season), hunters who successfully harvest an animal are required to bring the head to the FWP Libby Office, 385 Fish Hatchery Rd. A collection site will be set up for hunters to self-report and submit the head for testing.

Starting Oct. 26 and remaining throughout general deer and elk season, all animals can be checked at the new FWP collection station (Montana Department of Transportation shop site on US Highway 2, mile marker 35). The collection station will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. through one hour after sunset. Hunters who quarter or bone out their animal in the field must bring the head to the collection station. Samples from the head will be submitted for testing.

The Canoe Gulch game check station is only open on weekends during the general season. Hunters are only required to stop at the collection station if they successfully harvested an animal. All hunters, with or without game, must still stop at the Canoe Gulch check station if they encounter it.

Public Involvement

FWP, the Libby Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office are responding to reports of deer that appear sick and removing the animals for sampling. For people in the Libby area who see a deer that appears to be sick, please call (406) 291-6539 or Lincoln County Dispatch and leave a message with your name, number, the location of the animal and the time you saw it.

FWP held its latest public meeting in Libby on Aug. 2. The next information meeting is Aug. 16 at noon in the Ponderosa Room at Libby City Hall, 952 Spruce St. Additional meetings are being scheduled in Libby, Kalispell, Trout Creek, Eureka, and Polson.

Background

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. If left unmanaged so that a large percentage of a deer or elk herd becomes infected, CWD could cause significant population declines in the decades to come.

There is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested for CWD prior to consuming the meat, and to not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.

CWD has been in Montana since at least 2017. These prions are found throughout bodily tissues and secretions and are shed into the environment before and after death. When other animals encounter the prions, either from infected animals (contacting saliva/feces) or from contaminated environments (eating grass on infected soil), they can be infected. FWP has campaigned across the state informing residents to dump carcasses at proper landfills to avoid releasing CWD into the ground on public or private property.

For accurate, up-to-date information, please visit the FWP website (fwp.mt.gov/cwd) or FWP Region 1 Facebook page (facebook.com/MontanaFWP.R1). For more information, contact FWP Information Officer Dillon Tabish at (406) 751-4564 or email dillon.tabish@mt.gov