KALISPELL — It’s the official sign of fall in Northwest Montana — archery hunting wraps up on Oct. 15 and the general hunting season starts on Oct. 21, 2023.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) officials are asking hunters to get their game tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) before taking their kill to a meat processor or donating it to a food bank.
CWD is a progressive, fatal neurological disease that infects members of the deer family, such as mule and white-tailed deer, elk, and moose.
Once an animal is infected it can spread quickly, potentially wiping out entire herds. While CWD has not been transmitted to humans, it’s unknown if it eventually can or will be.
FWP is asking hunters to have a negative CWD test result in hand before bringing their animal to a processor for donation.
Flathead Food Bank Executive Director Chris Sidmore says they will gladly take donated meat with a negative test.
“One hundred percent. Our clients are in great need, and they absolutely love that — especially game— any type of healthy food," Sidmore said. "You know get it tested, bring it on down and we would by all means put it to good use,” said Sidmore.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk or moose to not consume the meat of the animal if it tests positive for CWD.
FWP will be holding two free instructional workshops in Northwest Montana for hunters to learn how to collect CWD samples from deer, elk and moose.
- Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023: In the parking lot of Libby Sports Center at 204 W. Ninth St. from 6-7 p.m.
- Monday, Oct. 23, 2023: At the Kalispell FWP office at 490 N. Meridian from 6-7 p.m.
FWP offers additional information about CWD at https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/chronic-wasting-disease/management.