DNR: 17 Montcalm Co. Deer Suspected or Confirmed to Have CWD

DNR: 17 Montcalm Co. Deer Suspected or Confirmed to Have CWD

Until this year, chronic wasting disease had not been found in Montana, though the disease exists in wild deer herds in Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

A fatal disease has been found in a deer in north central Montana, marking the second region to have an occurrence of chronic wasting disease since it first emerged in the state this fall. Of those tested, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties.

Five deer from Meridian Township tested positive from 2015 to 2016 in Ingham County; there were no confirmed cases in 2017.

The deer was taken in hunting district 401 in Liberty County.

The DNR says finding this many deer so quickly is a major concern for the deer population.

In anticipation of the disease coming to Montana, FWP recently updated its CWD response plan, and FWP director Martha Williams assembled an incident command team to respond to the detection near Billings. They have also opened additional deer check stations and encourage all hunters to have their deer tested at the stations.

CWD can only be effectively detected in samples from dead animals.

High rates of CWD in a deer population could significantly affect the number of deer and could decrease the potential for older deer, especially more mature bucks.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans and there is no evidence chronic wasting disease presents any risk to humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters who have harvested a deer, elk, or moose from a known infected area have the animal tested prior to consuming it. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, from environments contaminated with these fluids, or from the carcass of a diseased animal. It causes a spongy degeneration of the brain, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and, ultimately, the animal's death.

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