Last week, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the first-ever “special” hunt to establish how widespread chronic wasting disease (CWD) is in south-central Montana. So far, six deer – four mule deer bucks, one mule deer doe and one whitetail doe – have tested positive for the fatal disease, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) reports.
As goHUNT has previously reported, MFWP proposed the special hunt to collect samples from deer within the targeted area for a scientific sampling that will help the agency determine how far the disease has spread. CWD can only be confirmed in dead deer.
“This is a dynamic situation that’s constantly changing the landscape,” said Montana Game Management Bureau Chief John Vore during last Thursday’s meeting.
Officials are unsure how many hunters will participate in this “special” hunt, but hope that enough respond to the call to make the “special” hunt successful. Vore says that there are about 6,100 mule deer and 5,100 whitetail deer in the hunt zone; a map will be provided to all hunters who purchase a license, according to the Independent Record.
Here’s what you need to know about the “special” hunt, according to MFWP:
If the quota is not met, MFWP will discuss whether it will propose another “special” hunt another time.
“This is a disease that moves slowly through a population,” says Vore. “We can revisit it again next year. And we can ask for additional hunting.”
Special “B” deer licenses (the only licenses valid for this hunt) will go on sale TODAY, Dec. 11 at all license dealers, online and at FWP offices on a first-come, first-served basis. You cannot use any unfilled 2017 general big game tags for this hunt. The cost per license is $10 for residents and $20 for nonresidents.
Only 1,200 licenses will be issued: 100 either-sex whitetail, 500 whitetail doe only; 100 either-sex mule deer, 500 mule deer doe only. You can only purchase ONE either-sex license.
The hunt begins Dec. 15 and extends through Feb. 15 unless the quota of 200 of each species is met. Then, the hunt will end early.
Harvested animals must be brought to a CWD hunt check station located at Joliet for tissue sampling. The check station will be staffed from 10 a.m. to an hour after sunset, except on holidays. The deer’s head can also be dropped off at Region 5 headquarters in Billings. These samples will help officials determine how far the disease has spread.
Hunters will be required to provide GPS coordinates for where the deer was shot or point out the location on a map.
There will be a transport restriction zone that includes all of Yellowstone and Carbon Counties. In order for a deer to be moved out of this zone, it must be boned-out or processed; no whole carcasses will be allowed out of this zone.
As with any hunt, if you plan to hunt private land, you must gain landowner permission first.