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Wildlife disease detectives

Montana State University students, from left, Haley Knepper, Jennie Eller, Lauryn McDowell, and Ashlee Peery remove brain matter from the heads of deer in 2010 to test for chronic wasting disease at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Wildlife Laboratory in Bozeman.

A citizen advisory panel convened by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to provide guidance on the agency’s management plan for chronic wasting disease will hold its first meeting in Bozeman April 5-6.

The meeting will be held at the Region 3 office in Bozeman, 1400 South 19th, starting at 9 a.m. on April 5 and 8:30 a.m. on April 6. Public comment will be taken after a lunch break both days.

The first meeting of the 12-member panel will bring them up to speed on the history of CWD, the latest science, how other states and provinces have dealt with CWD, and the management response proposed by the agency.

The panel will also hear a brief overview of FWP’s management plan, including some proposed updates. This meeting is meant to be the first of at least three.

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CWD has not yet been found in Montana’s wild populations of deer, elk and moose. FWP started testing for CWD in 1998 and that effort continues, with specific attention given to high priority areas in southeast and northern Montana where confirmed cases of CWD are closest.

FWP began planning its response should the disease be discovered in Montana in the late 1990s, as well. 

The only documented cases of CWD in Montana were in captive animals at a game farm in Philipsburg in 1998; however, CWD has been detected in free-ranging populations in 22 other states and two Canadian provinces.

For more information about the meeting, contact John Vore at 406-444-3940.

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