A 2-year-old deer killed last month northeast of Huntley has tested positive for CWD, according to a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks press release. A laboratory at Colorado State University confirmed the lab result.
The deer is the first to test positive in Yellowstone County, although the disease was first detected in Montana in 2017 in nearby Carbon County.
Consequently, FWP will establish a new CWD management zone encompassing all of Yellowstone County and the portion of Big Horn County north of Interstate 90 and west of the Bighorn River.
The new zone will restrict hunters of deer, elk, and moose from transporting the animals' heads or spines out of the zones. Carcass transport restrictions will be the same as those listed in hunting regulations for other Montana management zones and further details will be published as they are decided by FWP biologists and managers.
Montana restricts transport of the head or spinal column from deer, elk, and moose harvested in a CWD management zone to stem the inadvertent spread of the disease. The Yellowstone County CWD management zone will be in addition to those published in the regulations.
CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is spread primarily through animal-to-animal contact or animal contact with infected materials and tissue. Infected tissue can be spread by humans, often by dumping animal remains outside of approved landfills.
CWD has spread slowly but persistently across the landscape. In Montana it first was detected in Carbon County in 2017 and presumably spread from deer moving between Montana and Wyoming, where the disease has been present since the 1990s, and has now spread across the entire state. Other cases of CWD have been discovered along Montana’s northern border, in areas adjacent to infected deer herds in Canada. This year the Libby CWD management zone in northwestern Montana has documented a number of CWD cases in white-tailed deer.
There is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested before consuming the meat and not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.
To avoid processing the meat before test results return, hunters can freeze the meat in quarters. All knives, saws, grinder parts, and cutting boards used for processing should be soaked in a strong bleach solution for at least five minutes. Hunters should wear latex gloves while processing.
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Hunters can take a trophy head to a taxidermist within the management zone for preservation and mounting to avoid violating the CWD containment order.
Maps and descriptions of CWD management zones are in the 2019 hunting regulations, and current maps are online at fwp.mt.gov/CWD.
This year FWP offers free lab testingfor CWD of hunter-harvested deer. Hunters are required to remove the retropharyngeal lymph nodes, and the FWP website demonstrates the process (look under “Submitting Your Own Sample”).
Hunters must then fill out a Hunter Harvest Submission Form, which is available on the FWP website, and include a phone number and email address so FWP can send a unique CWD number. This CWD number is what hunters will use to look up test results online at fwp.mt.gov/CWD. Be sure to record the location of harvest as accurately as possible. Samples without location information will not be tested.
Put the filled-out submission form in a separate resealable bag so it doesn’t get wet and include it with the sample. If you are sending samples from more than one animal fill out a separate submission form for each animal and make sure that each form is with the correct sample in a sealed bag.
Place the bagged samples, an ice pack, and the bagged submission form(s) in a small box or shipping envelope and send via your choice of postal carrier. FWP recommends using a carrier that offers tracking and can deliver samples within 24 to 48 hours to prevent the samples from rotting. Please try to ship samples on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of each week, and avoid shipping on holidays to prevent the samples from sitting over the weekend.
Send to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, ATTN: Wildlife Health Lab (CWD), 1400 S. 19th Avenue, Bozeman, MT 59718
Test results will be posted online within three weeks.