First-ever CWD deer case in Montana?

Recent positive CWD tests mark the first time the disease has appeared in wild deer, elk or moose in Montana. (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)

A chronic wasting disease sample collected by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in late October from a hunter-killed deer was found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease.

The sample was collected from a mule deer buck harvested in hunting district 510 south of Billings. The animal was killed in an area with a mixture of private and public land 10 miles southeast of Bridger. A second sample collected from the animal is being sent to the lab at Colorado State University for further testing, with results expected next week.

If the result is positive, it will mark the first time CWD has appeared in wild deer, elk or moose in Montana.

FWP has notified the hunter who submitted the suspect sample and landowners in the area where the deer was harvested. Though typically it takes one sample test to determine whether an animal is positive for CWD, that wasn’t the case here. Though the sample is considered suspect at this point, it is very rare that a suspect sample isn’t ultimately found positive. Therefore, FWP is moving forward as if the deer will ultimately be determined positive for CWD.

“We’ve suspected it wasn’t a matter of if but when CWD would show up in Montana,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator. “Fortunately, we’ve done a lot of work to prepare for this, and are hopeful the prevalence will be low as we work toward managing the disease.”

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