Second deer found to have chronic wasting disease
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: November 14, 2017

A second mule deer buck from hunting district 510 was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease.

This buck was harvested about 3 miles south of Belfry. A second sample from the buck is being tested by the lab at Colorado State University, with results expected next week. This is the second mule deer to be found suspect for CWD within the last week.

Last Tuesday, FWP got word that a sample from a buck harvested about 10 southeast of Bridger was found to be suspect for CWD. A second sample from the buck is being tested to see if the animal is indeed CWD positive.

In response to the initial detection, FWP director Martha Williams created an incident command team. The incident command team is being led by Barb Beck, FWP Region 5 supervisor.

FWP has notified the hunter who submitted the new suspect sample. Much of the area where the animal was harvested is public land.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is a slow-moving disease. However, left unmanaged, it could result in long-term population declines within affected herds.

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 these parts.)

Montana hunters need to remember that Montana law prohibits the import of heads and spinal columns of deer, elk or moose harvested in states or provinces that have CWD in wild or captive populations.

Out of state hunters should check their state’s carcass transport restrictions since Montana is now a CWD positive state.  Hunters should also dispose of carcass waste in a Class II landfill. Disposing of carcass waste on the landscape is considered littering and it may facilitate the spread of CWD.

Additionally, hunters who are concerned about whether the deer, elk or moose they harvest is infected with CWD should have the animal tested. If the animal was harvested in the priority surveillance area, the sampling can be done at a check station within the area or at the FWP Region 3 office in Bozeman or the Region 5 office in Billings. If the animal is harvested outside the area, hunters can follow the directions on the web at to take and submit their own samples for testing.

The area where both suspect samples were discovered is part of the FWP priority CWD surveillance area. FWP staff are collecting samples from hunter harvested deer in south central Montana hunting districts. Most samples are collected at check stations and hunters receive a card with a sample number. FWP is encouraging hunters who harvest deer in within the priority CWD surveillance area, and especially hunting districts 502 and 510, to submit their animals for testing. If this is not done at a check station, hunters can call the FWP Region 5 office in Billings at 406-247-2940.

FWP has recently updated its CWD response plan, which is open for public comment. In accordance with the response plan the incident command team will define an initial response area around where the infected animals were harvested, and may recommend a special CWD hunt. The specifics of this hunt would be determined by the incident command team.

The goal of a special CWD hunt would be to collect enough samples to determine disease prevalence and distribution. The most efficient and cost-effective way to test for CWD is by collecting samples from harvested animals. FWP would rely on hunters to harvest enough animals to make these determinations.

For more information, look online at

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