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Chronic Wasting Disease


CWD is a 100% fatal disease that infects members of the deer family, including elk, moose, mule and white-tailed deer.

In October 2017, CWD was first detected in free-ranging deer in Montana. It was detected in captive game farms in Montana in 1999 and again in 2020. Read FWP’s Management Plan to learn how Montana is addressing the problem.

There is no known transmission of CWD to humans. However, 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.

Hunting is the primary tool for monitoring and managing the spread of CWD. Concerns over CWD shouldn’t stop you from enjoying hunting season. Hunters are critical to conservation efforts across the state and protecting our wildlife heritage.

New in 2020

  • Sample submission is voluntary throughout Montana. If hunters want their harvested animal sampled, they can submit samples themselves by following steps on the Montana CWD Submission Guide or by visiting a CWD Sampling Station.
  • There are no carcass transport restrictions within the state. A carcass may be moved anywhere in the state regardless of where it was harvested as long as the carcass parts are disposed of in a landfill after butchering / processing. Carcass parts, such as brain, eyes, spleen, lymph glands, and spinal cord material, should be bagged and disposed of in a landfill or may be left at the kill site. Dumping carcasses is illegal, unethical and can spread diseases, including chronic wasting disease. This new requirement applies to all deer, elk, and moose carcasses wherever in the state they are harvested by hunters or as vehicle-killed salvage. Protect our herds: properly dispose of carcasses.
  • All scents and lures that use cervid-derived glandular scents are prohibited in Montana. This change is intended to prevent the spread of CWD.
  • Certain areas of the state are designated as Priority Surveillance Areas where FWP is making a concerted effort to gather more samples. In those specific areas, hunters are asked to voluntarily submit a sample from their animal.
  • Report sick-looking deer, elk or moose. If you shoot an animal that looks diseased or sick, report it immediately to your local FWP office and avoid handling it.
  • Due to the COVID pandemic, staff presence in FWP offices can vary as many continue to work remotely. Not all regional offices can offer help with sampling, so please call ahead to check on availability and to ensure your visit is timely, quick and smooth. Also, please come prepared to wear a mask, as required by Gov. Steve Bullock’s directives, should social distancing be difficult to achieve. FWP staff will be wearing a mask as well.


The latest on CWD in Montana:

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, was discovered in Montana in 2017. In 2018, FWP detected 26 new cases of CWD among wild deer, including 21 cases along the northern border in every county from Liberty County east to the North Dakota border, and five cases within the CWD-positive area south of Billings. In the spring of 2019, CWD was found in Libby. Special hunting regulations will be coming early fall.

In 2019, FWP will consolidate “CWD positive areas” and “Transport Restriction Zones” into the single moniker “CWD Management Zones.” The southern portion of FWP Region 7 will be included in the southern CWD Management Zone in anticipation of finding CWD positive deer in that area. CWD surveillance/monitoring during fall 2019 will be focused in southeastern Montana, around Philipsburg, and along the Hi-Line.

The following is the latest news on CWD in Montana, as well as information about the disease and ongoing surveillance efforts:

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