Tests confirm that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has reached deer herds in Montana.

Colorado labs have notified Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks that a sample from a mule deer buck harvested October 22 was positive for CWD. Another deer taken in November in the same general area is currently being tested at the same lab.

Both deer were from south-central hunting district 510, in Carbon County, south of Billings near the Wyoming border.

FWP Region 5 supervisor and CWD incident command team leader Barb Beck said in a news release, "These were the results we expected. Fortunately, we have a well-thought out response plan that will guide our steps moving forward."

The response team is comprised of FWP staff and representatives from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, Montana Department of Livestock, Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Crow Nation. FWP Director Martha Williams set up the team November 7th, after the second sick deer was reported.

The actions planned include a possible Special CWD Hunt, which would be after the general hunting season. Greg Lemon of FWP reported the goal (if the hunt is approved) would be to harvest enough mule deer to establish the scope of the disease occurrence.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects the central nervous system of deer, elk and moose. There's no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans, but recommendations are to never eat meat from animals that appear sick or are known to have CWD.

If hunters see a sick animal, especially in or around Districts 510 and 502, please report to the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks. Hunters who are concerned that the deer, elk or moose they've taken is infected with CWD can have the animal tested.

The main area of interest has check stations at Big Timber, Billings, Columbus, Laurel and Lavina. You can also contact the FWP offices in Bozeman and Billings. The Billings FWP number is (406) 247-2940.

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