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Montana proposes two-month “special” CWD hunt


Montana Mule Deer
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Next week, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will decide if the state will move forward with a special two-month mule deer hunt in south central Montana – the area where two bucks recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP)’s proposed hunt follows the agency’s CWD response plan and samples taken from the harvested animals will help officials determine how widespread the fatal disease is.

As goHUNT has previously reported, the hunt would be a first for the state. The incident response team has proposed the hunt area to include “the eastern portion of hunting district 520 southeast of Red Lodge; portions of HD 502 northwest of Belfry and east of Bridger, and the western portion of HD 510” with the Wyoming border serving as the southern boundary, MFWP reports. Because the final lab results of the samples taken during the regular big game season will not be available until Dec. 6, MFWP is still confirming the exact hunt area boundaries.

“This is a different scenario than a typical hunt,” said Barb Beck, Region 5 supervisor and CWD incident commander, in a press release. “We need to harvest animals to get samples to determine disease prevalence. Participating hunters and landowners will be helping with a critical wildlife disease management effort.”

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Officials would like to harvest about 370 deer in order to obtain a good sampling within the targeted area. The hunt will end once that number is reached.

“To make this hunt successful we’ll need the participation of hunters and landowners alike,” continued Beck. “We want to make sure hunters understand what this hunt is, what the rules are and where it’s going to take place.”

The public will be able to comment during the Commission’s meeting on Dec. 7.

Here’s what you need to know about the proposed special hunt per MFWP:

  • The special hunt is known as the “Bridger” CWD hunt due to its proximity to Bridger, Montana.
  • There will be two sessions: Dec. 15, 2017 through Jan. 14, 2018 and Jan. 14 to Feb. 15, 2018.
  • Special “B” deer licenses (the only licenses valid for this hunt) will go on sale 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.
  • All hunters must download a special CWD hunt packet at
  • 500 licenses will be sold for each session, which will include 100 either-sex tags and 400 for antlerless deer only.
  • Licenses will cost $10 for residents and $20 for nonresidents.
  • Harvested animals must be brought to either a CWD hunt check station located at the rest area north of Bridger or MFWP’s Region 5 office in Billings for tissue sampling. These samples will help officials determine how far the disease has spread.
  • You are limited to seven “B” licenses per year. This means that if you have already purchased “B” licenses during the general season, you must subtract that number for “B” license purchases for the Bridger CWD hunt. Only one “B” license can be for either sex.
  • 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.

Stay tuned to goHUNT for further information.


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SETH D. - posted 10 months ago on 12-12-2017 04:13:40 am
Big Wonderful Wyoming

Erik, agreed the worst case scenario is someone in a uniform knocking on your front door to take something away. I didn't know that happened, I am surprised it happened.

I was a law enforcement officer, and I am retired military. Being a cop or warden is a tough job, mixing that with controlling a disease makes for strange bed fellows I would rather not endure or be part of.

Erik S. - posted 10 months ago on 12-11-2017 11:15:26 am

Seth, In the case of the Oregon man it is my understanding that the meat was boned out and in his freezer when it was confiscated. I don't know much else about that story. There are rules and regulations on transporting meat across certain state lines especially in California where you cant bring any spinal parts or brain matter in. We know that boned meat is not a risk because people are putting this meat in their freezer and consuming it. I love what DFG's do for the most part and realize no system will ever be perfect, but a knock on the door by any authority to confiscate food is a sketchy situation.

SETH D. - posted 10 months ago on 12-11-2017 04:00:52 am
Big Wonderful Wyoming


My understanding on confiscation has more to do with the concept of testing, and their fear that if you knew you had some CWD infected meat your own carelessness, criminal intent or a lack of judgement would cause someone to put it someplace another deer could get to it. Their illegal confiscation probably falls under the "public health and safety" realm and not so mucho a case of the G&F being complete jerks.

Erik S. - posted 10 months ago on 12-10-2017 08:37:50 am

@ Seth, Well considering the disease has been around since the 60s and likely thousands if not hundreds of thousands of deer have been consumed in CWD infected areas without a single human coming down with CWD I think the fair thing to do is let people decide for themselves. (Yes I am aware of the recent Canadian study on monkeys) I dont know the data on how many CWD deer have been consumed by humans, so I would like to see that but I think my guess above is fair unless I am completely missing something? What I dont like is a government telling me what I can and cannot consume, I work in agriculture and our food safety system is flawed in some ways and in others out right criminal what they do to people producing/selling certain raw products. Confiscating someones hunted meat, to me, is a crime. Would I eat CWD infected meat? That I don't know....

SETH D. - posted 10 months ago on 12-08-2017 04:16:12 am
Big Wonderful Wyoming

@ Erik, do you honestly think it is a good idea? Maybe you are familiar with other prion virus diseases like Crutzfield Jacobs disease and mad cow? Here is the CDC link on prion diseases.

Erik S. - posted 10 months ago on 12-07-2017 12:16:22 pm

If the deer is found to be CWD positive does the hunter get to keep the meat? I found it a little disturbing that the Oregon man had his meat taken from him boned out. I think everyone should be allowed to eat CWD meat at their own risk.

SETH D. - posted 10 months ago on 12-04-2017 04:29:01 am
Big Wonderful Wyoming

Interesting, the problem is that prions can lay dormant for a thousand years without infecting something, and then all of a sudden you have a huge infection. Wiping out the deer is a good solution for killing off the disease. Dr. Valarius Geist thinks that the increase in wolves will lead to the end of CWD. What do you guys think?