Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks detected Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a mule deer buck that was in the Baker, MT, city limits (HD705). The deer was euthanized in late October and the initial CWD test was not available until this week, according to a news release from the Miles City area FWP officials.

Wildlife biologist Melissa Foster said in the report, "We are awaiting a second test to confirm the positive, but given that the animal was symptomatic and we are in the middle of hunting season, we wanted to get the information out to the public as quickly as possible."

CWD has been found in this hunting region of Montana previously (see map below). There are areas in the state that are Priority Surveillance Areas for CWD sampling as officials try to determine where the disease is spreading. CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that is found among mule and white-tailed deer, elk and moose. Even though an animal looks healthy, it could still be infected. Symptoms sometimes take a couple of years to appear.

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In a previous report, FWP reported that less than 3 percent of over 19,000 Montana samples in the last four years were CWD-positive. Most of those were from white-tailed deer and many from mule deer. There are "hot spots" in Montana - Units 100 and 104 in the northwestern corner and Unit 322 east of Dillon. Over half the positive samples were from those three units.

cwd map
CWD Montana map. (Montana FWP-provided map)

There is no known transmission of the disease to humans, but the CDC recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk or moose from an area where CWD has been found get their animal tested before consuming the meat. Also, dumping carcasses is illegal. Monitoring has been going on since 2017 in Montana. For more information, check the FWP website.

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