FWP News: CWD sample collection workshops scheduled in Billings and Harlowton
By angelamontana

Posted: October 5, 2023

Hunters can learn how to collect their own samples from harvested deer, elk and moose

BILLINGS – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is offering two free instructional workshops for hunters to learn how to collect chronic wasting disease (CWD) samples from deer, elk and moose. The first workshop will be Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Billings FWP office (2300 Lake Elmo Dr.) from 5-7 p.m. A second workshop will be held in Harlowton on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Montana Department of Transportation weigh station parking lot from 5-7 p.m. Registration is required. To register and for more information, contact Region 5 CWD coordinator Daniel Bayley at 406-561-5412 or daniel.bayley@mt.gov.

Participants at the workshops should bring a deer, elk, or moose carcass or head with neck meat from a recent harvest if they have one. Frozen heads are difficult to sample and need to be thawed prior to sampling. FWP will provide demonstrations for all participants on removing the lymph nodes used for CWD sampling, and those with their own animal heads will get hands-on experience removing these.

FWP wildlife staff will be available at each workshop to provide information and answer questions. Regulations, access guides, and giveaways will be available.

Hunting is the primary tool for monitoring and managing the spread of CWD. Although CWD testing is voluntary in Montana, samples from hunter-harvested deer, elk and moose are critical to FWP’s understanding of this fatal disease. Multiple big game hunting districts near Billings are Priority Surveillance Areas for CWD, which are areas where FWP is making a concerted effort to gather more samples. For more information on CWD Priority Surveillance Areas in Montana, visit: fwp.mt.gov/conservation/chronic-wasting-disease/in-montana.

CWD testing is free, and there are multiple options for submitting samples. Hunters can either take the samples themselves and fill out an online hunter submission form and mail them to the Wildlife Health Lab in Bozeman; or they can bring the animal carcass (or head) to an FWP regional office or CWD sampling station this fall. Visit the FWP website for sampling station locations and hours: fwp.mt.gov/cwd.

CWD is a fatal disease that infects members of the deer family, including elk, moose, mule deer, and white-tailed deer, and hunters play a key role in minimizing the spread and providing data. To learn more about a hunter’s role in CWD management, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd, where you can also find an instructional video on how to collect CWD samples and more information on CWD and testing options.


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