CWD regulations in Montana

Due to the regular amending of regulations in Montana, it is recommended that before hunting you check these CWD regulations, as well as those of any other states or provinces in which you will be hunting or traveling through while transporting cervid carcasses. The contact information for Montana can be seen below:

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FOR NATIONAL REGULATIONS GO HERE

Testing Laboratories in Montana

Sorry, our records do not show any CWD testing laboratories in your state, if you find this to be in error, please contact us.

Locations Where CWD Was Found

CWD Has not yet been detected in this state, if you find this information to be inaccurate, please contact us

Most Recent CWD News

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  • A chronic wasting disease sample collected by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in late October from a hunter-killed deer was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease.

    The sample was collected from a mule deer buck harvested in hunting district 510 south of Billings.

    Read More
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested more than 1,300 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2010-2011 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals.

    Montana’s detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose, and has relied heavily

    Read More
    • 2
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested more than 1,300 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2009-2010 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals.

    Montana’s detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose, and hunter harvest samples

    Read More
    • 2
  • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested about 2,000 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2008-2009 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals tested.

    Montana’s detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose , and hunter harvest samples

    Read More
    • 2
  • Montanans who plan to travel out-of-state or to Canada to hunt deer, elk and moose, should know that it is now illegal to import heads and spinal cords from harvested game animals from a state known to have CWD in wild animals. Hunters can only

    Read More
    • 2
  • Montanans who plan to travel out-of-state or to Canada to hunt big game, including deer, elk and moose, should know that it is now illegal to bring heads and spinal cords from harvested game animals back with them from a state known to have chronic

    Read More
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Category Archives: Montana

Montana: CWD sample comes back suspect, second sample submitted

A chronic wasting disease sample collected by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in late October from a hunter-killed deer was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease.

The sample was collected from a mule deer buck harvested in hunting district 510 south of Billings. The animal was killed in an area with a mixture of private and public land 10 miles southeast of Bridger. A second sample collected from the animal is being sent to the lab at Colorado State University for further testing, with results expected next week. If the result is positive, it will mark the first time CWD has appeared in wild deer, elk or moose in Montana.

FWP has notified the hunter who submitted the suspect sample and landowners in the area where the deer was harvested. Though typically it takes one sample test to determine whether an animal is positive for CWD, that wasn’t the case here. Though the sample is considered suspect at this point, it is very rare that a suspect sample isn’t ultimately found positive. Therefore, FWP is moving forward as if the deer will ultimately be determined positive for CWD.

“We’ve suspected it wasn’t a matter of if, but when CWD would show up in Montana,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator. “Fortunately, we’ve done a lot of work to prepare for this, and are hopeful the prevalence will be low as we work toward managing the disease.”

FWP has recently updated its CWD response plan, which was presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission on Tuesday and is now open for public comment.

In accordance with the response plan, FWP director Martha Williams assembled an incident command team to respond to the detection. The incident command team will define an initial response area (IRA) around where the infected animal was harvested, and may recommend a special CWD hunt. The specifics of this hunt would be determined by the incident command team.

The goal of a special CWD hunt would be to collect enough samples to determine disease prevalence and distribution. CWD can only be effectively detected in samples from dead animals. FWP would rely on hunters to harvest enough animals to make these determinations.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is part of a group of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). TSEs are caused by infectious, mis-folded prion proteins, which cause normal prion proteins throughout a healthy animal’s body to mis-fold, resulting in organ damage and eventual death.  

CWD is a slow-moving disease. However, left unmanaged, it could result in long-term population declines within affected herds. All the states and provinces that border Montana, other than Idaho and British Columbia, have found CWD in their wild cervids. The closest positive to Montana was in Wyoming, about 8 miles south of the Montana border and less than 50 miles southeast of where Montana’s suspect deer was harvested.

Though there is no evidence CWD is transmissible to humans, it is recommended to never ingest meat from animals that appear to be sick or are known to be CWD positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters who have harvested a deer, elk, or moose from a known CWD-infected area have the animal tested prior to consuming it. If hunters harvest an animal that appears to be sick, the best thing to do is contact FWP and have the animal inspected.

Some simple precautions should be taken when field dressing deer, elk or moose:

  • Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when field dressing.
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove all of these parts.)

FWP is currently in year one of a revamped CWD surveillance program. Department staff are collecting CWD samples from hunters in this year’s priority area of south central Montana. Most samples are collected from game check stations and cooperating meat processors and taxidermists. Hunters who submit a sample will receive a card with a sample number. That number can be checked online along with the list of results at fwp.mt.gov/CWD.

Should this suspect sample be determined to be positive, FWP will move quickly to communicate with local landowners, government agencies and the public about plans for a special hunt. The success of any CWD hunt will depend largely on the cooperation from everyone involved.

In the meantime, FWP will be encouraging all hunters harvesting deer within that area (hunting districts 502 and 510) to get them sampled. This can be done by visiting the Laurel check station, which is open on weekends, or by contacting or visiting the FWP regional office in Billings at 406-247-2940.

For more information and to look at test results, go online to fwp.mt.gov/CWD.

CWD Not Found In Montana Wild Game

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested more than 1,300 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2010-2011 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals.

Montana’s detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose, and has relied heavily on testing samples from hunter-harvested animals collected in “high risk” areas. CWD is a brain disease in deer, elk and moose that is always fatal.

Over the past 13 years FWP has tested more than 16,400 wild elk or deer in Montana for CWD and has not yet found any evidence of it.

CWD was diagnosed in 1999 in nine captive elk on an alternative livestock facility, or game farm, near Philipsburg. All the animals there were destroyed and the facility was quarantined.

“It is good news that we haven’t found CWD in Montana wildlife populations yet, but given that the disease occurs in wild elk, deer and moose in adjacent states and Canadian provinces we’ll keep testing. It’s likely we’ll find it here at some point,” said Neil Anderson, FWP’s Wildlife Laboratory supervisor.

FWP adopted a CWD Management Plan to help protect Montana’s wild deer and elk from infection and to manage the disease should it occur here.

If you should see sick, emaciated animals, please report them to the nearest FWP regional office, or the FWP biologist in your area.

For more information, visit FWP’s CWD Frequently Asked Questions at fwp.mt.gov and search “CWD.”

Chronic Wasting Disease Yet To Be Found In Montana

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested more than 1,300 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2009-2010 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals.

Montana’s detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose, and hunter harvest samples collected in “high risk” areas along Montana’s borders with Wyoming, South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Alberta. CWD is a brain disease in deer, elk and moose that is always fatal.

Over the past 12 years FWP has tested more than 15,000 wild elk or deer in Montana for CWD and has not yet found any evidence of the disease.

CWD was diagnosed in 1999 in nine captive elk on an alternative livestock facility, or game farm, near Philipsburg. All the animals there were destroyed and the facility was quarantined.

“The good news is that we haven’t found CWD in Montana wildlife populations, but given the location of the disease in wild elk, deer and moose in adjacent states and Canadian provinces we’ll keep testing because it’s likely we’ll find it here at some point,” said Neil Anderson, FWP’s Wildlife Laboratory supervisor.

FWP adopted a CWD Management Plan to help protect Montana’s wild deer and elk from infection and to manage the disease should it occur here.

CWD has been detected in Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah, and Colorado among other states, and in Saskatchewan and Alberta. No one is sure where CWD came from. It was first detected in the wild in 1981. Since then it has been found in wild herds or alternative livestock ranches, or game farms, in 15 states and two provinces.

If you should see sick, emaciated animals, please report them to the nearest FWP regional office, or the FWP biologist in your area.

For more information, visit FWP’s CWD Frequently Asked Questions at fwp.mt.gov and search “CWD.”

Chronic Wasting Disease Not Found In 2009

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tested about 2,000 deer, elk and moose collected during the 2008-2009 hunting season and did not detect chronic wasting disease in any of the animals tested.

Montana’s detection program tests sick and road-killed deer, elk and moose , and hunter harvest samples collected in “high risk” areas along Montana’s borders with Wyoming, South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Over the past 11 years FWP has tested more than 14,000 wild elk or deer in Montana for CWD and has not yet found any evidence of the disease.

CWD was diagnosed in 1999 in nine captive elk on an alternative livestock facility, or game farm, near Philipsburg. All the animals there were destroyed and the facility was quarantined.

“Although we have not found CWD in wildlife populations of Montana, given the location of the disease in wild elk, deer and moose in adjacent states and Canadian provinces it is likely that we will find it at some point” said Neil Anderson, FWP’s Wildlife Laboratory supervisor.

“After CWD was detected in a moose near Jackson Hole in Wyoming, we are reviewing where we need to focus our efforts. Should CWD find its way into elk frequenting the feed grounds in Wyoming, it will only be a matter of time before we find it in elk populations of southwestern Montana,” Anderson said.

FWP adopted a Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan to help protect Montana’s wild deer and elk from infection and to manage the disease should it occur here. CWD, a chronic brain disease in deer, elk and moose that is always fatal, has not yet been found in wild herds in Montana.

“We are working to prevent CWD from entering the state, monitoring Montana’s wild game for the disease, and preparing, through research and planning, to manage it if it does occur,” said Tim Feldner, author of FWP’s Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan.

To review Montana’s new CWD management plan , or visit the CWD Frequently Asked Questions go to the FWP home page at fwp.mt.gov and use the search feature.

CWD has been detected in Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, and Colorado among other states, and in Saskatchewan and Alberta. No one is sure where CWD came from. It first showed up in the wild in 1981. Since then it has been found in wild herds or alternative livestock ranches, or game farms, in 15 states and two provinces.

If you should see sick, emaciated animals please report them to the nearest FWP regional office, or the FWP biologist in your area.

Hunters Urged to Help Protect Montana’s Wild Elk and Deer From CWD

Montanans who plan to travel out-of-state or to Canada to hunt deer, elk and moose, should know that it is now illegal to import heads and spinal cords from harvested game animals from a state known to have CWD in wild animals. Hunters can only bring back to Montana:

  • meat that is boned, cut and wrapped; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached

  • hides with no heads attached

  • clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached

  • antlers with no meat or tissue attached

  • upper canine teeth, also known as “buglers”, “whistlers” or “ivories”

  • finished head, partial body or whole body mounts already prepared by a taxidermist.

States where CWD is confirmed in wild deer or elk include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. CWD is also found in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada.

Some states or provinces also have game-export regulations that Montana hunters must follow.

In addition, all Montana hunters and meat processors are advised to properly dispose of waste, including heads and spinal columns, from any harvested deer, elk, or moose by sealing them in plastic bags and depositing them in a waste facility known to transport to a sanitary landfill facility.

These measures will help to limit the potential introduction or unknowing spread of CWD in Montana.

CWD is a rare brain disease that causes infected deer and elk to lose weight and body functions, behave abnormally and eventually die. The ailment belongs to a family of diseases that include mad cow disease in cattle, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans.

Public health officials have found no link between CWD in deer and elk and disease in humans and say there is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans. Scientific studies however, are still in progress to determine if CWD poses any risk to human health.

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