Chronic wasting disease (CWD) monitoring efforts continue in Montana. So far, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Montana FWP) confirmed the disease in 134 deer, elk and moose samples out of over 7,000 game samples tested between July 1 and Dec. 3 across the state, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports.
While the “primary surveillance effort” is over for the year, results are still trickling in – and Covid-19 created logical challenges for processing game samples this year. However, with the Montana Department of Livestock’s testing ability at its diagnostic lab in Bozeman, results were processed quicker than prior years.
“We have really appreciated their help, as have hunters,” said Ken McDonald, Montana FWP wildlife division administrator. “We had some new areas with detections as well, which does reinforce the assumption that the disease is widespread across the state.”
Montana FWP identified five new hunting districts with positive CWD cases in areas of Bozeman, Dillion, Sheridan and Lake Fort Peck. Roughly a quarter of the 335 whitetail deer sampled in Hunting District 322 tested positive, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, leading the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to consider whether to increase whitetail deer harvests in HD 320, 325 and 330 in the southwestern portion of the state “to reduce whitetail deer numbers and gather more CWD samples.”
“The focus of further sampling in these hunting districts will allow for a broader understanding of CWD distribution in the area, reduce deer densities, particularly within river bottom areas, and provide a better understanding of disease prevalence,” officials wrote.