During the upcoming fall big game hunting season, Fish, Wildlife & Parks' Wildlife Laboratory will be conducting surveys for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in FWP administrative regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7.
The surveys will include collection of heads from mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk. Sampled animals will be tagged at check stations to indicate that the head was removed for the CWD survey to prevent enforcement problems with evidence of sex. Specific brain tissues and tonsils will be extracted from the heads. Laboratory technicians will be assisting at several check stations to collect the tissues and these will be forwarded to a laboratory where histologic sections will be examined by a pathologist to look for lesions typical of CWD.
CWD has been identified in wild deer and elk in Colorado and Wyoming and in seven game farms in South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Saskatchewan. For the past several years, Montana FWP monitored a limited number of big game animals for CWD and has found no evidence of the disease in free ranging wildlife. CWD was not believed to be present in Montana game farms until late June of this year, when the Department of Livestock notified FWP that a game farm elk reportedly shipped from Montana to Oklahoma was confirmed with CWD.
FWP has proposed increasing the surveillance for this disease in wild elk and deer. The surveillance will provide monitoring the southern perimeters of the state where the disease is most likely to naturally spread from Wyoming and Colorado. Emphasis will be placed on animals that are 1.5 years old and older of both sexes.