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.

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