The efforts to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease across Montana will be discussed during a Jan. 13 meeting in Libby.
So far, staff from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have collected more than 1,200 samples in Libby alone, as well as 207 more at the Region 1 headquarters. Within the Libby CWD management zone, samples from 48 white-tailed deer and one mule deer were detected as positive.
Statewide, more than 6,800 samples have been collected since spring. FWP is paying for the tests, which cost about $18 each for an estimated total of more than $100,000. The tests are done at Colorado State University, and FWP is trying to learn more about the extent of CWD in Montana.
At least 91 animals tested positive in Montana during the past year, mainly white-tailed deer, but also an elk northeast of Red Lodge and a second mule deer south of Fort Peck.
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CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. No known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals has been detected, including to pets or livestock.
Still, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested prior to consuming the meat, and to not eat the meat if the animal tests positive.
Montana has four CWD management zones, which include portions of northern, northwestern and southeastern Montana.
The disease was first detected in Montana in 2017, although it also was found in a captive game facility near Philipsburg in 1999.
After establishing the Libby CWD management zone, FWP offered 600 additional antlerless white-tailed deer B licenses, which sold out within about two hours of them being offered.
The Libby meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside the Libby City Hall Ponderosa Room, 952 East Spruce St. For more information, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.