Chronic wasting disease was recently found in a white-tailed doe that was killed within the city limits of Libby.
Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials collected the doe after residents reported seeing a very emaciated and sick-looking deer.
This week, initial test results came back positive for CWD. Results of a second confirmation test are expected early next week. This is the first time CWD has been detected in the wild west of the Continental Divide in Montana.
“...This detection west of the Continental Divide is extremely troubling,” said Nick Gevock, conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation, in a statement. “This speaks to the need for rapid response to do everything we can to limit the spread of the disease, and also for Congress to act on Sen. Tester’s bill to secure federal funding to help Montana FWP do the work needed to address the disease.”
In accordance with FWP’s CWD response plan, an incident command team has been assembled to respond to the detection. The incident command team will define an Initial Response Area around where the infected animal was collected. This will include an area within a roughly 10-mile radius of the collection site. The IRA defines the area within which the disease prevalence and distribution will be determined. In addition, FWP will collect samples from road-killed deer in Hunting Districts 100, 101, 103 and 104.
People in the Libby area who see a deer that appears to be sick are being asked to call 291-6539 and leave a message with their name, number, the location of the animal and the time they saw it.
CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. It is part of a group of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies. TSEs are caused by infectious, mis-folded prion proteins, which cause normal prion proteins throughout a healthy animal’s body to mis-fold, resulting in organ damage and eventual death.
CWD is a slow-moving disease. However, left unmanaged, it could result in long-term population declines within affected herds. All the states and provinces that border Montana, other than Idaho and British Columbia, have found CWD in their wild cervids.
CWD was first found in wild deer in Montana in October 2017. To date, CWD has been detected in Carbon, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Valley, Daniels, Sheridan and now Lincoln counties. To prevent the spread of CWD within Montana, FWP establishes CWD Management Zones in areas where CWD has been found. Whole carcass, whole head or spinal column from any deer, elk, or moose harvested cannot be removed from these zones unless the animal has tested negative for CWD.
For more information about CWD in Montana, visit fwp.mt.gov and click on Chronic Wasting Disease Management.