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Montana FWP will pay for CWD testing statewide

Montana deer

Photo credit: Dreamstime

There’s another suspected case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Libby, Montana, which would make it the seventh deer to test positive for the fatal disease. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP) is still waiting on the final confirmation from the lab as to whether the road-killed whitetail doe, which was discovered near the Lincoln County landfill on Aug. 26, has CWD. According to the report, however, the deer is most likely infected as the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Colorado State University’s initially “identified the sample to be suspected of CWD infection.” The lab is currently running a second test and MTFWP is awaiting confirmation. 

Since Sept. 6, 2019, MFWP has submitted 117 samples for CWD testing from deer all found in the Libby area. As a result, the agency has established the Libby CWD Management Zone to continue to monitor the specific region. This fall, MTFWP will require testing of all deer, elk and moose harvested within this zone—even those killed with a Libby Special CWD Hunt B license—within three days of the kill, according to a MTFWP press release. Hunters who quarter or bone out the animal in the field are required to bring the head into a field office for sampling. 

MTFWP will also hold a Special CWD Hunt this fall in the Libby area in accordance with the state’s CWD Management Plan. 600 whitetail deer antlerless B licenses were sold that can be used in Hunting Districts 100, 103 and 104. According to the agency, the special hunt will be held at the same time as the archery and general season hunt and follow the same regulations for dates, weapon restrictions and access. 

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Here’s some additional information to know about CWD testing requirements:

  • If you harvest an animal before Oct. 26, you must bring the head to the MTFWP Libby Office at 385 Fish Hatchery Rd.
  • If you harvest an animal after Oct. 26, you must bring the head to the Libby Special CWD Hunt Sampling Station, which is on US Hwy 2 at mile marker 35. It will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 1/2 hours after sunset.
  • You must document the exact kill site.
  • MTFWP will tag animals with a unique identification number that you can use later to look up CWD test results at fwp.mt.gov/CWD.
  • If your animal tests positive for CWD, MFWP may issue you a replacement 2019 license.
  • Whole heads or spinal columns are not to be removed from the Libby CWD Management Zone unless the animal tests negative for CWD.
  • Only use the approved landfills (like the Lincoln County Landfill) to dispose of hides, bones and trimmings.

Northern Montana CWD Management Zone

CWD Management Zones are areas where CWD is known to exist.

While CWD testing is required for any harvest in the Libby CWD Management Zone, MFWP will also pay for samples from hunters in other areas across Montana. Hunters who collect their own samples and send them to the MFWP lab in Bozeman will require location information in order to be tested. If you are interested in providing a sample for testing purposes, please follow these instructions per MTFWP:

  • Remove the retropharyngeal lymph nodes, located in the animal’s throat area. A video is available on the FWP website that demonstrates the process.
  • Fill out a Hunter Harvest Submission Form, which is available on the FWP website, and include a phone number and email address so FWP can send a unique CWD number. This CWD number is what hunters will use to look up test results online at fwp.mt.gov/CWD. Be sure to record the location of harvest as accurately as possible. Samples without location information will not be tested.
  • Put the lymph nodes in resealable bag, double bag the sample, and wrap the bag in a paper towel.
  • Put the filled-out submission form in a separate resealable bag so it doesn’t get wet and include it with the sample. If you are sending samples from more than one animal fill out a separate submission form for each animal and make sure that each form is with the correct sample in a sealed bag.
  • Place the bagged samples, an ice pack, and the bagged submission form(s) in a small box or shipping envelope and send via your choice of postal carrier. FWP recommends using a carrier that offers tracking and can deliver samples within 24-48 hours to prevent the samples from rotting. Please try to ship samples on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of each week, and avoid shipping on holidays, to prevent the samples from sitting over the weekend.

Send to:

  • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
    ATTN: Wildlife Health Lab (CWD)
    1400 S. 19th Avenue
    Bozeman, MT 59718

Test results will be available within three weeks.

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