Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks staff is on pace to collect a record number of chronic wasting disease samples from deer, elk and moose this year.
Between July 1 and Nov. 12, FWP staff collected 3,147 CWD samples, of which 1,613 were from the 2021 priority sampling areas located in northwestern, northcentral, southwestern and southcentral Montana. This is above last year’s 2,966 collected samples within that same time period. In addition, hunters have submitted 239 samples this year, down from 430 hunter-submitted samples at this time last year.
The samples were tested at the Montana Department of Livestock’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Bozeman. Average testing turn-around time is currently seven days, which is quicker than previous years.
“Hunters expect quick results when they get their animals tested for CWD and the Department of Livestock has provided that,” said FWP director Hank Worsech. “We’re grateful to have this in-state capacity for testing.”
So far 64 animals tested positive or suspect for CWD. Here is a breakdown of positive and suspect results by species:
White-tailed deer: 47
Mule deer: 16
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that infects deer, elk and moose. It is always fatal and there is no known cure. It was first found in Montana in 2017. It is not known to infect humans, but it is strongly recommended that people not eat meat from infected animals and to have their harvested animals tested before eating them if they were taken from an area where CWD is known to exist.
FWP covers the cost of testing hunter-harvested animals for CWD. Hunters should look online for information on how to take a sample themselves and submit it for testing or bring animals to a CWD check station of FWP regional office for sampling. Sample submission is voluntary throughout Montana. For more information on these surveillance areas and how to submit samples for testing, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.