Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials ask hunters, outfitters, landowners, and others in portions of northeastern Montana to help with a continuing yet scaled back survey for a wildlife disease found in nearby states.
Montana’s chronic wasting disease detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose, and has relied heavily on testing samples from hunter-harvested animals collected in "high risk" areas. CWD is an always fatal brain disease in deer, elk and moose.
Over the past 14 years FWP has tested more than 17,300 wild elk, moose and deer in Montana for CWD and none have tested positive for the rare ailment.
For the on-going CWD study, hunters in northeastern Montana's hunting districts 640, 641 and 651 are asked to donate the heads of harvested mule deer or white-tailed deer. Collection barrels for heads will be available at the Medicine Lake Recreation Area along Montana Highway 16 on the southwest side of Medicine Lake.
"Federal funding for large-scale CWD surveillance has recently been eliminated," explained Neil Anderson, supervisor of the FWP wildlife lab in Bozeman.
"Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge has limited funding for CWD testing this year, so FWP is working with the refuge to conduct surveillance in that area."
CWD causes infected deer and elk to lose weight and body functions, behave abnormally and eventually die. States where CWD is confirmed in wild deer and elk include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. CWD is also found in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.
In addition to the efforts in northeastern Montana, FWP continues to test symptomatic elk, moose and deer for CWD from across the state. If anyone should see sick, emaciated animals, FWP asks that they be reported to the nearest FWP office or area biologist.
For more information, visit FWP’s CWD Frequently Asked Questions at fwp.mt.gov—search: "CWD".