CWD confirmed in 142 animals during Montana’s 2019/20 disease sampling

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Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been confirmed in 2% of the samples collected during the 2019/20 season in Montana. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Montana FWP) submitted 6,977 samples and 142 tested positive, including 86 whitetail deer, 53 mule deer, two moose and one elk; the moose and elk were the first time the fatal disease was detected in that species within the state, according to a press release.

New CWD-positive areas were identified in 2019 that included northwestern Montana (Libby), southwestern Montana (near Sheridan and Twin Bridges) and in eastern and southeastern Montana. According to Montana FWP, “boundaries of known CWD-positive areas [were expanded] with new detections south of Highway 2 along the Hi-Line, and north of the Yellowstone River in southcentral Montana.” 

During the 2019/20 season, Montana FWP collected samples from areas in southeastern Montana, the Philipsburg area, the Hi-Line area and the Libby area. As goHUNT previously reported, the agency also held several “special” CWD hunts that required mandatory CWD sampling of any harvested deer in both the Libby and Moffat Bridge areas. And free testing was also offered to any hunter who submitted their own samples.

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According to Montana FWP, here’s the current breakdown of the 6,977 total samples:

  • 38% were collected outside of priority sampling areas;
  • 15% were collected and submitted by hunters;
  • 13% of the deer sampled in Libby tested positive; and
  • 4% tested positive outside of Libby but within the Libby CWD Management Zone.

Since first detecting CWD in the wild, Montana FWP has tested 11,020 samples statewide. 

With the  2019/20 sampling complete, the agency plans to use the information to determine effective strategies to contain the disease and keep it from spreading. Random sampling will also continue on “symptomatic animals throughout the year.”


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