Hunters and others interested in chronic wasting disease–a fatal disease of deer and elk that has yet to turn up in any Montana wild game, but that is present in nearby states and Canadian provinces–can offer comments at public meetings set to discuss the 2003 hunting seasons.

During January, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks is hosting 39 meetings to discuss the 2003 deer and elk hunting seasons, spring turkey seasons and quotas, spring black bear quotas and recommended game-damage permit authorizations. In addition, FWP plans to seek the public’s help in identifying issues to address as the wildlife agency develops an action plan to combat CWD should it be found in any of Montana’s wild deer or elk herds.

In a continuing effort to monitor Montana’s wild deer and elk herds for CWD, FWP researchers collected test samples from more than 1,000 deer and elk in 2002. Test results are expected later this winter. Prior to 2002, FWP tested more 1,700 wild deer and elk for CWD and none were positive for the disease.

At the meetings, wildlife biologists will briefly discuss CWD management options. To find a meeting in your area, call your nearest FWP office or check the meeting schedule on FWP’s website at www.fwp.state.mt.us.