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.