New CWD management area set after deer test positive near Libby
September 12, 2019
From Fish, Wildlife and Parks
KALISPELL — Two additional white-tailed deer in the Libby area are suspected to be positive of chronic wasting disease, leading to the creation of a new CWD management zone, along with zones in the southern part of the state and along most of Montana’s Hi-Line.
See related story on today’s Hunting Page, Page B4.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks collected samples from the white-tailed bucks as part of a game damage hunt on private property on the west side of Libby near the Kootenai River.
The Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, tested the samples and identified them to be suspected of CWD infection and will run second tests for confirmation.
If confirmed, the new results mark nine detections of CWD out of 123 samples submitted for testing in the Libby area this year. The positive detections have all involved white-tailed deer.
Multiple confirmations of CWD have occurred on the Hi-Line in the last two years and in southern Montana near Broadus and Billings.
No wild game had tested positive for CWD in Montana until deer harvested in Liberty County and south of Billings in Carbon County tested positive two years ago.
CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. There is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock, but 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 for CWD prior to consuming the meat and to not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.
FWP establishes CWD Management Zones in areas where CWD is known to exist, the FWP Chronic Wasting Disease Management Page says. To prevent the spread of CWD from infected areas of Montana to other parts of the state, the whole carcass, whole head, brain, or spinal column from any deer, elk or moose harvested within a CWD Management Zone may not be removed from that Management Zone unless the animal has tested negative for CWD.
Animal parts that can be removed from a CWD Management Zone include, the webpage says:
• Meat cut and wrapped or separated from the bone;
• Hides with no heads attached;
• Quarters or parts with no spine or head attached, and
• Skull plates, antlers, or skulls with no tissue.
• Evidence of the animal’s sex does not have to be attached to any part of the carcass but cannot be destroyed and should accompany the animal from field to point of processing.
In response to this year’s CWD detections, FWP has established the Libby CWD Management Zone, which encompasses roughly 10 miles around the detection sites.
All deer, elk and moose harvested within the Libby CWD Management Zone must be checked and sampled within three days of harvest. Hunters who quarter or bone out their animal in the field must bring the head for sampling. This fall FWP will pay for sampling for hunters who collect their own samples and send them to the FWP lab in Bozeman. For more info on how to submit samples, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/cwd .
Before Oct. 26, hunters who successfully harvest an animal in the Libby CWD Management Zone are required to bring the head to the FWP Libby Office, 385 Fish Hatchery Rd. A collection site will be set up for hunters to self-report and submit the head for testing.
During general big game season — Oct. 26 to Dec. 1 — the Libby Special CWD Hunt Sampling Station at Montana Department of Transportation shop on U.S. Highway 2, mile marker 35 — will be open every day from 11 a.m. to 1½ hours after sunset. Hunters are only required to stop at the Sampling Station if they harvested an animal in the Libby CWD Management Zone. The Canoe Gulch Check Station will be open weekends from 11 a.m. to 1½ hours after sunset during the general season and all hunters, with or without game, passing the check station must stop.
Hunters will be required to document the exact location of the kill inside the Libby CWD Management Zone. Animals will be tagged with a unique identification number. Hunters can use that identification number to look up test results on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov/CWD. Test results are usually available within three weeks. Hunters who harvest an animal that tests positive for CWD may receive a replacement 2019 license.
To reduce the spread of CWD, whole carcasses, whole heads or spinal columns cannot be taken out of the Libby CWD Management Zone unless the animal has tested negative for CWD. Hunters are strongly encouraged to dispose of hides, bones and trimmings at approved landfills such as the such as the Lincoln County Landfill. The spinal column may be left at the kill site but require landowner permission if on private land. If the carcass is processed within the CWD Management Zone, any brain and spinal parts must be discarded in the Lincoln County Landfill.
Following the guidelines of Montana’s CWD Management Plan, FWP is scheduling a Special CWD Hunt in the Libby area this fall. FWP sold 600 white-tailed deer antlerless B licenses that can only be used in the Libby CWD Management Zone, which includes portions of Hunting Districts 100, 103, and 104. The hunt will occur at the same time as the archery and general hunting season and follow the same regulations for dates, weapon restrictions, and access.
For more information, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/cwd .
Havre Daily News staff contributed to this report.