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.

“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.

Montana lawmakers and the FWP Commission recently considered precautionary game-import measures to impede the spread of CWD, but decided instead to encourage hunters to follow some common sense suggestions.

FWP 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.

CWD is a rare brain disease that causes infected deer and elk to lose 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. Scientific studies however, are still in progress to determine if CWD poses any risk to human health.

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