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Libby Chronic Wasting Disease Detection: Incident Command Team Update

Hunting - Region 1

Friday, July 19, 2019

Incident Summary

Through July 19, samples from five white-tailed deer in the Libby area are positive for chronic wasting disease.

The Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado identified the detections from samples collected from dead deer.

The first detection, which occurred in late May inside city limits, marked the first time that CWD was detected west of the Continental Divide in the wild.

As of July 19, samples from 37 animals (32 white-tailed, three mule deer, one moose) in and around Libby have been submitted for CWD testing. Of those, 17 were collected from road-killed incidents. Results are pending for 10 samples.

Incident Response Plan

FWP is working closely with the City of Libby and Lincoln County to develop a CWD Response Plan. In accordance with Montana’s CWD Management Plan, FWP has assembled an Incident Command Team involving FWP staff from Libby, Kalispell, Bozeman and Helena to respond to the situation.

The next step in addressing CWD in and around Libby is to determine the geographic distribution and prevalence (i.e. percent of the herd infected) of disease in the herd by sampling deer. FWP is working with the City of Libby to sample in and around town, as well as within a area encompasses roughly 10 miles around the detection sites. This area, originally referred to as the Initial Response Area, has now been named the Libby CWD Management Zone.

On July 15, the Libby City Council approved a resolution authorizing Libby City Police, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, and Montana FWP personnel to harvest and collect for sampling deer from public property for the purposes of testing for CWD. This testing will help FWP identify the prevalence and distribution of CWD in the area.

Following the guidelines in the Montana CWD Management Plan, FWP works to keep prevalence low where CWD exists and prevent its spread by increasing harvest where possible, targeted removal in areas around detections, and minimizing large groupings of deer.

FWP is finalizing details of a Special CWD hunt in the Libby area this fall. The tentative plan is to offer 600 white-tailed deer antlerless B licenses in the Libby CWD Management Zone, which includes portions of Hunting Districts 100, 103, and 104.  The hunt would occur at the same time as the archery and general hunting season and follow the same regulations for dates and weapon restrictions (i.e. you must use archery equipment during the archery season). To prevent spread of CWD, whole carcasses or whole heads and/or spinal columns may not be taken out of  the CWD Management Zone.

Public Involvement

FWP, the Libby Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office are responding to reports of deer that appear sick and removing the animals for sampling.

For people in the Libby area who see a deer that appears to be sick, please call (406) 291-6539 or Lincoln County Dispatch and leave a message with your name, number, the location of the animal and the time you saw it.

FWP will hold additional information meetings on Aug. 2 and Aug. 16. The meetings will start at noon in the Ponderosa Room at Libby City Hall, 952 Spruce St. Members of the public are invited to attend. FWP staff will provide regular updates on the CWD Response Plan involving FWP and the City of Libby and answer any questions from the public.

Future informational meetings will be forthcoming later this summer in Libby, as well as Kalispell, Thompson Falls and Eureka.

Background

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose.  If left unmanaged so that a large percentage of a deer or elk herd becomes infected, CWD could cause significant population declines in the decades to come.

There is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock. 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.

CWD has been in Montana since at least 2017. These prions are found throughout bodily tissues and secretions and are shed into the environment before and after death. When other animals encounter the prions, either from infected animals (contacting saliva/feces) or from contaminated environments (eating grass on infected soil), they can be infected. FWP has campaigned across the state informing residents to dump carcasses at proper landfills to avoid releasing CWD into the ground on public or private property.

For accurate, up-to-date information, please visit the FWP website or FWP Region 1 Facebook page (facebook.com/MontanaFWP.R1). For more information, contact FWP Information Officer Dillon Tabish at (406) 751-4564 or email dillon.tabish@mt.gov