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FWP Surveys Hunters And Landowners On Wildlife Disease

Fish & Wildlife

Thursday, June 20, 2013

State wildlife officials have embarked on an extensive survey of hunters and landowners to determine their opinions about Chronic Wasting Disease, a rare brain disease that is always fatal in deer, elk, and moose.

CWD belongs to a family of diseases that include mad cow disease in cattle, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in humans.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is conducting the survey in anticipation of creating a new plan to impede the fatal disease's entry into Montana—and for managing the risk of spreading should it be detected here. Montana's first CWD plan was completed in 2005.

"We're surveying more than 3,000 resident hunters and landowners to learn more about what they know about the disease and to determine what we may need to consider in a new CWD risk management plan," said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division chief in Helena.

After more than 14 years of testing, CWD has not been found in Montana's wild deer, elk, or moose populations. About 18,000 wild deer, elk and moose, mostly harvested by hunters, have been tested for CWD in Montana since 1998.

CWD was diagnosed in 1999 in nine captive elk on an alternative livestock facility, or game farm, near Philipsburg. All the animals there were destroyed and the facility was quarantined.

States where CWD is confirmed in wild deer or elk include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. CWD has also been found in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Most of the states and provinces have game-export regulations that Montana hunters must follow. Similarly, Montana hunters may only bring back processed deer, elk and moose when hunting in a CWD–positive area in another state.

Symptoms suggestive of CWD in deer, elk and moose include emaciation, listlessness, blank facial expressions, excessive salivation, lowered heads and, in some cases, hyper-excitability and nervousness. FWP encourages hunters and others who see animals with any of these symptoms to contact the nearest FWP office.

Public health officials have found no link between CWD in deer and elk and disease in humans and say that at this time CWD poses no known risks to humans, domestic livestock, or pets.

For more information, visit the CWD Alliance website at http://www.cwd-info.org/ ;
or visit FWP's CWD Frequently Asked Questions at fwp.mt.gov and search "CWD".