Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials are again asking hunters, outfitters, landowners and others to help monitor for chronic wasting disease, also known as CWD.
CWD has not been found in Montana’s wild-game herds, but evidence of the disease has been found within 50 miles of Montana’s northern border. Deer and elk hunters in eastern Montana are asked to donate heads from game harvested in FWP Region 6 and in parts of Regions 4 & 7 as part of an ongoing survey.
This year FWP is collecting deer and elk heads from animals harvested in any Region 6 hunting district, as well as HDs 410, 417, 700, 702, 704 and 705. The heads can be dropped off at hunter check stations, at barrels located at FWP offices, and at participating meat processors and taxidermists within the survey area.
The following businesses in northeast Montana are working with FWP to collect heads from their customers:
· Treasure Trail Meat Processing, 1064 U.S. Highway 2 West, Glasgow;
· Kent Morehouse Taxidermy, Highway 24 south of the Milk River outside Glasgow;
· Summers Taxidermy in Dagmar.
Submission is voluntary, and the heads cannot be returned to hunters. Heads must still have the first vertebrate attached to the skull. Heads with the antlers removed (including skull-capped heads) are acceptable, but animals with damage to the head are not.
Each head must be accompanied with the following information on tags that can be found at the collection sites: Hunter name, ALS number, species, hunting district and the section where the animal was harvested. Submitted heads with any of this information missing will not be tested for CWD.
Hunters with any questions or any additional businesses interested in helping FWP collect heads can call CWD technician Andrew Marx in Glasgow at (406) 600-6582.
A total of nearly 16,000 wild deer, elk and moose have been tested for CWD in Montana since 1998. While none have tested positive for the brain disease, it is important to remain vigilant and to detect it early should it enter the state. In the vicinity of Montana, CWD has so far been confirmed in Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Saskatchewan and Alberta. It has also been found in 10 additional states.
Hunters can help reduce the potential for accidental spread of CWD by properly disposing of carcasses in landfills, although some landfills prohibit the disposal of animal parts. Hunters should also use safe practices in handling game animals in general to prevent the potential spread of disease and parasites.
CWD is not known to infect humans, livestock, or pets, but these simple, common-sense precautions should still be followed when field dressing and butchering big game: