Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was recently found in a mule deer buck that was euthanized within Baker city limits by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials on Oct. 27.
FWP officials collected the deer after residents reported the buck was acting lethargic and was visibly emaciated and had droopy ears, which are classic symptoms of the disease, the agency said in a press release issued Friday.
Earlier this week the initial test came back positive for CWD and the results of the second, confirmation test should be available next week.
“We are awaiting a second test to confirm the positive, but given that the animal was symptomatic and we are in the middle of hunting season, we wanted to get the information out to the public as quickly as possible,” said Baker-area wildlife biologist Melissa Foster.
CWD is a progressive, fatal neurological disease that infects members of the deer family, such as mule and white-tailed deer, elk and moose. Animals may be infected and contagious for a very long time, sometimes two years or longer, before symptoms appear. An animal can appear perfectly healthy and still be infected; that’s why testing is so important.
There is no known transmission of CWD to humans. However, 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. Remember that dumping carcasses is illegal. Carcasses, including the head and spinal column, should be either left at the place of harvest or disposed of in a class II landfill after butchering and processing to prevent spreading CWD and other diseases.
CWD exists in the wild in several places in the state, including northwest Montana, along the Hi-Line, southcentral Montana and southwest Montana. FWP has conducted CWD surveillance and monitoring efforts around the state since 2017, including this year.
CWD has been found in Region 7 previously. This season, southeast Montana’s Hunting Districts 700 and 703 are within the Priority Surveillance Areas for CWD sampling, but hunters harvesting an animal in any area can seek sampling services.
In southeast Montana, hunters can have their deer, elk or moose tested at the regional office in Miles City during normal business hours or at the check station in Hysham, which is being operated on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 9 a.m. to dark throughout the remainder of the hunting season. Hunters are also encouraged to submit their own samples. Information on sample collection, the submission form, and ways to submit their samples can be found on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov under Chronic Wasting Disease Management.
For more information about CWD in Montana including maps where CWD has been found, maps of surveillance areas and information on getting an animal tested, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.