Early results from a portion of the 1,055 wild deer and elk submitted for chronic wasting disease testing this hunting season show that none of the animals were infected by the fatal ailment, state wildlife officials said today.

The tissue-samples from deer and elk harvested by hunters this season, or collected by FWP, were sent Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. for analysis. Results from the first 457 samples tested to date are negative for CWD.

While the early testing indicates Montana’s wild deer and elk herds are in good health, Neil Anderson, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks lab biologist, said the agency will continue its intensive testing through the fall hunting season. He said the agency hopes to collect tissue samples from 2,000 more deer and elk this year, with sample collection focusing on high-risk areas along Montana’s northeastern, eastern and southeastern borders.

CWD is a rare brain disease that causes infected deer and elk to lose weight eventually resulting in death of the animal. Public health officials at the U.S. Centers 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. Scientific studies, however, are still in progress to determine if CWD poses any risk to human health or to domestic livestock.

CWD has turned up in wild deer in the bordering states or provinces of South Dakota, Wyoming and Saskatchewan. FWP has tested more than 2,900 wild deer and elk for CWD since 1996, most intensively in high-risk areas along Montana’s northeastern, eastern and southeastern borders. Intensive sampling has also been continued in the Philipsburg area, near the alternative livestock facility where CWD was detected in a captive elk in 1999.

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