It doesn't show signs of stoppin'. And no, we're not giving props to the whimsical holiday song, "Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow."

A much darker cloud with no signs of stopping hangs over the populations of deer, elk and moose in Montana and at least 30 other states, along with five Canadian provinces. Thankfully, critical financial help is on the way to battle Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

That's according to Mark Holyoak, Director of Communication for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) here in Missoula. Mark tells us that Congress included the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act within a budget bill that passed before the  adjournment of the recently completed session.

The impact on hunting opportunities is noticeable. But far worse is the cruel suffering inflicted upon the animals stricken with CWD. This progressive, degenerative and always fatal nervous system disease is found in both farm-raised and wild deer, elk and moose.

Making contracting the disease even more difficult to diagnose is the many ways It may be transmitted. There's the possibility of direct animal-to-animal contact. There's contact with saliva, feces or carcass parts. It can even be spread through soil contamination from an infected animal.

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The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation says that the Congress-appropriated $19.5 million will be used for more CWD testing method development, improving detection efforts, and attempts to determine what, if any, genetic resistance there might be in animals in the high-risk categories.

For some time now, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has encouraged hunters to get their harvested game tested for CWD. Their useful management guidelines are laid out here.

Congratulations to RMEF, the Boone and Crockett Club, and a coalition of conservation and wildlife organizations who, for 18 months, lobbied so diligently to get that legislation passed. Let's all hope it leads to promising research and effective results.

States with the most registered hunters

Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

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