The last big batch of test results from animals harvested during the general season and sampled for chronic wasting disease has turned up 16 new positives mostly in areas where the disease is already known to exist.
For the first time, a deer tested positive from hunting district 705 in southeast Montana.
A second white-tailed buck tested positive in HD 322 in the Ruby Valley near the town of Sheridan in southwest Montana.
This batch of test results represents most of the samples collected during the general big game season. Hunters who harvest deer or elk during late seasons can still submit their lymph nodes for testing to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks lab in Bozeman. Instructions for sampling your own animal and mailing the samples to the lab can be found at fwp.mt.gov/CWD. Test results can also be found at this link.
Hunters should be aware that test results are taking about three weeks to get back from the testing facility at Colorado State University due to the holiday season.
This year FWP conducted CWD surveillance in parts of northern, western and southeastern Montana, primarily from hunter-harvested animals. In addition, hunters in all parts of the state were able to submit their own samples for testing. All samples are sent for testing to Colorado State University and those results were reported on a weekly basis to FWP.
This year, more than 7,000 animals have been sampled statewide, and 131 have tested positive for CWD. The disease has now been detected across much of Montana, including the northwest, northeast, southeast and southwest.
With the general hunting season now closed, FWP will review management strategies, testing results and other collected information to make plans for the next necessary steps in managing the disease. CWD cannot be eradicated once it infects a herd.
CWD is a fatal disease that can affect the nervous system of deer, elk and moose. Transmission can most commonly occur through direct contact between animals, including urine, feces, saliva, blood and antler velvet. Carcasses of infected animals may serve as a source of environmental contamination as well and can infect other animals that come into contact it.
The disease was first discovered in the wild in Montana south of Billings in 2017. There is no known transmission of CWD to humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that hunters harvesting an animal in an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested. If the animal tests positive, CDC advises against eating the meat.