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Environment & Science

Montana Deer Continue To Test Positive For Chronic Wasting Disease

Jim Handcock / Flickr

A disease that slowly kills animals like deer and elk has been found in Montana.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks first saw evidence of chronic wasting disease in wild populations in 2017.

This year’s general hunting season is over, and the latest samples of Montana’s wild deer show the continued presence of chronic wasting disease in the state.

That comes as no surprise to Game Management Bureau Chief John Vore. He said CWD has been found throughout North America, including in the areas around Montana in the United States and in Canada.

“We know from experience that other states and provinces have had that given enough time so that the prevalence of the disease can grow in a population to the point where it’s affecting 30-to-40% of the animals, that it can have a big impact on the population.”

Vore later wrote to YPR that, out of the results that have so far come in, 22 samples have tested positive for CWD this year.

Chronic wasting disease, which affects the brain and spinal column, is fatal to deer according to MT FWP. While it hasn’t been shown to transmit to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against the consumption of infected deer.

Fish, Wildlife, & Parks manages along those guidelines.

The department suggests that hunters who collect deer in CWD-positive zones have the carcasses tested. So far, there are CWD-positive zones in both northern and southern Montana along the borders of the state. Fish, Wildlife, & Parks also restricts transporting the animals caught within those areas.

The department will consider management solutions over the next few months. For instance, Vore said they’re considering an increase to the harvest on bucks, which are more likely to spread CWD.