DEER LODGE — State wildlife officials report that chronic wasting disease (CWD) was recently detected in a mule deer buck that was harvested by a hunter near Deer Lodge.
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks notes this marks the first time CWD has been detected in hunting district 213.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that can infect deer, elk and moose with FWP officials noting CWD is always fatal, and there is no known cure.
It was first detected in Montana’s wild herds in 2017. The closest prior detections were approximately 100 miles to the southeast of the Deer Lodge area.
Hunters play a significant role in CWD disease management and understanding by providing test samples from harvested animals, according to FWP.
Hunters in HD 213 and nearby areas are being encouraged to submit samples in the remaining days of the general hunting season.
FWP states surveillance will continue in 2024 to understand more about the prevalence of CWD in the Deer Lodge area and other parts of the state.
Hunters anywhere in Montana can either take CWD samples from harvested animals themselves and fill out an online hunter submission form and mail them to the Wildlife Health Lab in Bozeman or they can bring the animal (or head) to an FWP regional office or CWD sampling station.
FWP will be taking CWD test samples at a temporary sampling station at the intersection of West Milwaukee Avenue and South Old Stage Road in Deer Lodge from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily for the last three days of general hunting season.
While CWD is not known to infect humans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people not eat meat from infected animals.
Hunters should also have their harvested animals tested before eating them if they were taken from an area where CWD is known to exist.