White-tailed doe in Libby tests positive for CWD, first MT case west of Continental Divide

Posted at 3:55 PM, May 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-31 17:55:52-04
(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A white-tailed doe recently killed in Libby tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which is the first time CWD has been detected in the wild, west of the Continental Divide in Montana.

A press release states Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials collected the doe after residents reported seeing a very emaciated and sick-looking deer.

This week, initial test results came back positive for CWD while the results of a second confirmation test are expected early next week.

FWP is working with local officials and staff from around the state to determine a response.

“We know the residents of Libby and folks around Montana are concerned about this discovery,” stated FWP wildlife program manage and regional CWD expert Neil Anderson. “However, CWD is a slow-moving disease and so while we want to be prompt in addressing public concerns, we want to be deliberate in determining how we are going to respond.”

In accordance with FWP’s CWD response plan, an incident command team has been assembled to respond to the detection. The incident command team is based in Kalispell and is working to determine deer numbers and distribution in and around Libby, according to a press release.

People in Libby are asked to call 291-6539 if they see a deer that appears to be sick. You’re advised to leave a message with your name, number, the location of the animal, and the time you saw it.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is a slow-moving disease, however, left unmanaged, it could result in long-term population declines within affected herds. All the states and provinces that border Montana, other than Idaho and British Columbia, have found CWD in their wild cervids.

CWD was first found in wild deer in Montana in October 2017. To date, CWD has been detected in Carbon, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Valley, Daniels, Sheridan and now Lincoln counties.

To prevent the spread of CWD within Montana, FWP establishes CWD Management Zones in areas where CWD has been found. Whole carcass, whole head or spinal column from any deer, elk, or moose harvested cannot be removed from these zones unless the animal has tested negative for CWD.