Two laboratories will accept elk or deer heads to be tested for chronic wasting disease from hunters in Montana.

The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory will conduct the tests for $25. Hunters can send a well-wrapped deer or elk head, either well cooled or frozen, to the lab. Test results will be available in eight to 10 working days.

For the proper address and mailing procedures, call (307) 742-6638.

The Colorado State University Diagnostic laboratory also will conduct tests, but asks that hunters send only a portion of the animal’s brain stem or lymph nodes to the lab. It’s recommended that veterinarians prepare the samples to ensure that they’re usable. The tests cost $25, and results will be available within two weeks. For the proper address and mailing procedures, call 970-491-1281.

The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance ( advises hunters to take some standard precautions when pursuing or handling deer or elk. Those include not shooting, handling or consuming animals that act abnormal or look sick.

People should wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing their deer or elk. They should bone out the meat from the animal, and avoid sawing through bones or cutting through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).

Handle the brain and spinal tissues minimally, if at all, and do not eat an animal’s brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes. Normal field dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, should remove almost all of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove any remaining lymph nodes.

After field dressing an animal, people should wash their hands and instruments thoroughly. People who have their deer or elk commercially processed should request that their animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from their animal.

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