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:

Click a section to expand:


Testing Laboratories in Montana

All samples are sent to Colorado: Colorado State University Diagnostic Laboratory
300 W. Drake St. Ft.Collins, CO 80523
970-491-1281 or 970-491-6143

Locations Where CWD Was Found

Hunting districts 5, 510 and 401

Most Recent CWD News

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  • Hunting - Region 4 Thursday, February 08, 2018 At the end of the fifth weekend of the Sage Creek Special Chronic Wasting Disease Hunt in northern Liberty County, hunters have checked in 113 mule deer. So far 109 of the deer have tested negative for CWD,
    Read More
  • A mule deer buck shot by a hunter Nov. 12 north of Chester on the Hi-Line near the Canadian border has tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

    The deer was taken in hunting district 401 in Liberty County.

    The test results mark the fifth incident

    Read More
  • A second test on a tissue sample from a buck harvested in hunting district 510, south of Billings, has come back positive for chronic wasting disease.

    This buck was harvested Oct. 22 about 10 miles southeast of Bridger. Initial testing received by Montana Fish, Wildlife

    Read More
  • A second mule deer buck from hunting district 510 was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease.

    This buck was harvested about 3 miles south of Belfry. A second sample from the buck is being tested by the lab at Colorado State University, with

    Read More
  • 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
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Category Archives: Montana

Public Comment Sought on Options for Managing an Outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease Bull Elk Herd

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials are seeking public comment on management decisions that might be necessary should chronic wasting disease be discovered in the state’s wild deer and elk herds. CWD, a fatal brain disease in deer and elk, has not yet been found in the wild herds in Montana.

“We’ve prepared an environmental assessment to help identify the choices the agency would have to make should CWD be discovered in Montana’s wild deer or elk herds,” said Tim Feldner, FWP’s CWD plan coordinator. “Now it is time for the public to take a look at those potential actions and let us know which they think would be the most acceptable and effective.”

CWD has been detected in Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado and Saskatchewan, among other states and provinces. 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 12 states and two provinces.

Since 1998, FWP has tested more than 7,000 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 near Philipsburg. All the animals there were destroyed and the facility was quarantined. Montana voters passed an initiative the following year that prohibits transfer of existing game farm licenses, ends new licensing, and forbids shooting captive elk.

“It appears from the way the disease has spread in the past several years in adjacent states, that it is highly likely CWD will appear here in wild deer and elk herds at some point,” Feldner said. “We’re preparing now to manage that situation as effectively as possible.”

Feldner said the CWD environmental assessment describes actions the agency might take if CWD is identified, the impact on wildlife populations and the related economic, agricultural, environmental and social issues. The plan makes recommendations on prevention, surveillance, management, public information and research. Management alternatives include reducing the number of deer or elk in the area where the disease is identified to reduce or stop its spread.

A series of public meetings to discuss the environmental assessment will held from 7-9 p.m. at the following FWP regional offices:

  • Aug. 16 – Missoula – 3201 Spurgin Rd.
  • Aug. 23 – Bozeman – 1400 South 19th
  • Aug. 25 – Great Falls – 4600 Giant Springs Rd.
  • Sept. 1 – Kalispell – 490 N. Meridian Rd.
  • Sept. 13 – Billings – 2300 Lake Elmo Dr.
  • Sept. 14 – Miles City – Industrial Site W
  • Sept. 15 – Glasgow – Rural Route 1-4210

Copies of the CWD environmental assessment are available at FWP regional and the headquarters office, on the FWP web site, under Public Notices, Chronic Wasting Disease Mgmt Plan-EA, or by calling 406-444-2452.

The public may comment on the EA during the public meetings, or until Sept. 23 by email to . Those reviewing the document on the FWP web site may email comments from there, or comment by mail to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Attn: Chronic Wasting Disease EA, 1420 East Sixth Ave., P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.

If You Find Young Deer And Elk, Leave Them Alone; policy aimed at eliminating one risk factor that could spread CWD in Montana.

People with good intentions are tempted each spring to remove newborn deer and elk from the wild. This year, as part of Montana’s effort to control the risk of spreading chronic wasting disease (CWD), taking a deer fawn or elk calf from the wild could prove to be fatal for the animal.

“This is the time of year when deer and elk are being born in Montana. Our message is, ’If you care, leave them there,’” said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim. “Because of the impending threat of CWD, we can no longer assuredly accept, hold, rehabilitate and then release deer and elk back to the wild. The risks associated with CWD are real and we must do what we can to manage the risks that are under our control.”

CWD is a brain disease in deer and elk that causes infected animals to lose weight and body functions, behave abnormally and eventually die. The disease can pass from animal to animal by physical contact and is most likely transmitted orally, making confined animals of particular concern. Exposure to an environment contaminated by an infected animal may affect additional animals. CWD belongs to a family of diseases that include mad cow disease in cattle.

Many young wild animals are delivered to FWP because some people don’t understand that wildlife commonly hide newborn animals for safety and to protect them from predators. “To the average person it appears the newborn is abandoned, but the adult is usually nearby,” Aasheim said. “The most humane and thoughtful choice is to leave the area as quickly and quietly as possible, without disturbing anything.”

If someone brings a deer or elk to FWP, officials will ask that the animal be immediately returned to the location where it was found. If the animal can’t be returned, it will be humanely euthanized using defined procedures to minimize pain and distress, Aasheim said.

The policy is aimed at eliminating one risk factor that could spread chronic wasting disease in Montana. Aasheim said animals housed at FWP’s wildlife rehabilitation center in Helena–or any holding site–could inadvertently spread CWD from there back into the wild or to other captive facilities.

“This is a difficult thing for our agency to do,” Aasheim said. “No one wants to be responsible for the death of a fawn or calf. We’ve discussed our options with wildlife disease experts and we’ve concluded that FWP must take this action to protect the state’s wildlife populations.”

Aasheim stressed that it is illegal to possess or remove any game animal, game bird, songbird, furbearer or bird of prey from the wild. Fines can be issued for these violations, he said.

More than 7,000 wild deer and elk have been tested for CWD in Montana since 1996. While none tested positive for CWD, wildlife health experts believe that it’s only a matter of time before CWD is found in Montana’s wild deer or elk herds.

The disease has been confirmed in wild deer in Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and in Saskatchewan, Canada, just 120 miles north of Montana. In 1999, nine elk from one Montana alternative livestock facility were diagnosed with CWD following complete eradication of the captive herd.

For more information, download the If You Care brochure (PDF) or visit FWP’s CWD web page.

Tests Indicate No CWD In Montana Deer And Elk

Early results from fall testing show no sign of CWD in Montana’s deer and elk herds.

“Though there is no sign of the disease in the state’s wild, free-ranging herds, the disease has turned up nearby in Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming and Saskatchewan and Alberta,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Director Jeff Hagener. “With that proximity, it’s probably only a matter of time before it enters Montana.”

While almost 2,000 Montana deer and elk were tested so far this year, more will be tested over the next few months. Although preliminary statewide results show no infection, final results are not expected until this spring.

While testing to date indicates a clean bill of health for Montana’s wild deer and elk herds, Hagener said the agency remains vigilant. Intensive testing will continue during fall hunting seasons, and FWP will also continue year-round testing of all animals that appear sick or emaciated.

In addition to the 9,000 free-ranging deer and elk tested by FWP, another 3,700 captive deer and elk from Montana’s alternative livestock facilities have been tested for CWD since 1999. All those captive animals, except for nine at an alternative livestock ranch in Phillipsburg in 1999, were free of the disease.

Tissue samples are gathered from deer and elk harvested by hunters, from roadkill and from deer and elk selected specifically for testing. All tissue samples from wild Montana ungulates are sent to Colorado State University for analysis.

CWD is a rare brain disease that causes infected deer and elk to lose weight and body functions, behave abnormally and eventually die.

Only recently, in Colorado, a moose was identified as suffering from CWD. The ailment belongs to a family of diseases called “transmissible spongiform encephalopathies,” which include mad cow disease in cattle, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD, in humans.

The test for CWD is done by sampling a specific portion of an animal’s brain, tonsils or lymph nodes. There is no practical or reliable way to test live animals or meat. There is no known cure for CWD. Public health officials at the U.S. Center for Disease Control 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.

FWP has developed a statwide management plan to prevent and respond to CWD, if and when the disease is detected in Montana. The plan is available on the FWP web site at under Public Notices, Chronic Wasting Disease Mgmt Plan-EA, or by calling 406-444-2452.

As part of the state’s CWD management plan, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission is considering a ban on transportation into Montana of heads and spinal columns of deer, elk, and moose harvested in states where CWD infection has been identified in ungulates.

Hunters Urged to Take Precautions With Out-of-State Game

State wildlife officials are urging Montanans who will hunt big game in other states to take precautions to minimize the risk of bringing back animals with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

“While the chance is remote, our request is part of an ongoing effort to protect Montana’s wild elk and deer populations from CWD,” said Jeff Hagener, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

To impede the spread of CWD, FWP encourages hunters to follow some common sense precautions and urges hunters planning to visit states known to have CWD in wild animals to only bring home:

  • 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; or

  • tested and certified disease-free animals.

States where CWD is confirmed in wild deer and elk include Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming. CWD is also found in Saskatchewan, Canada. Some of the states have game-export regulations that Montana hunters must follow.

FWP began a program to detect CWD within Montana in 1996 and has tested more than 4,600 deer and elk. None of the animals tested had the disease. The surveillance program will continue during the 2004 big game season with FWP collecting CWD test samples at locations around Montana selected as highest risk areas for CWD movement into the state. Hunters are also being asked to report any sick or abnormal looking animals to FWP and to provide their location so that they can be harvested and tested by FWP personnel.

CWD is a rare brain disease that causes infected deer and elk to loose 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.

Fawns to Be Used in Study of Disease

GREEN RIVER (AP) – An expert on chronic wasting disease hopes to study 20 deer fawns from several Western states this fall.

Elizabeth Williams, with the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture, has outlined plans to study 10 mule deer fawns and 10 white-tailed deer fawns in Wyoming, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.

The deer will be used as controls and will come from areas not known to have chronic wasting disease. Williams said the animals must be obtained as young fawns so that they can be trained to enter metabolic chambers for sample collection.

The fawns will be kept in wire-enclosed, concrete-floored pens within a double-fenced enclosure at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory’s Red Buttes Research Facility. The research will take place over four years. Any animals that die during the research will be autopsied and all will be euthanized at the end of the study.

Also taking part in the Defense Department-funded study will be Terry Kreeger, with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and Colorado Division of Wildlife researchers.

Chronic wasting disease was first detected in the Rocky Mountain region in 1967, when biologists diagnosed a sick deer at a wildlife research facility in Fort Collins, Colo. The disease had spread to Wyoming by the end of the decade at the Game and Fish Department’s Sybille Canyon Research Facility.

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