From CSKT Natural Resources Department
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a disease that attacks the brain and nervous system of infected deer, moose and elk. CWD is thought to be spread directly, through nose-to-nose contact, most commonly via saliva, urine and feces. Researchers also believe the disease may be spread indirectly, via contaminated soil, where the disease is thought to remain for a long period of time.
CWD was first detected in eastern Montana wild deer in October of 2017. Currently, CWD has been detected in Carbon, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Valley, Daniels, and Sheridan Counties in Montana. Lincoln County will also be added to this list, due to the recent detection of CWD in a white-tailed deer doe in Libby, Montana. This will be the first time CWD has been detected in the wild, west of the Centennial Divide in Montana.
There is no known treatment for CWD, which proves to be fatal to an infected animal. There is no evidence CWD can infect humans, but the Center for Disease Control recommends not consuming meat from an animal that tests positive for CWD. They also suggest having your deer, moose and elk tested prior to consumption if you harvested from a known CWD-positive area.
Poor body condition, excessive salivation, found near water drinking frequently, lack of coordination, and droopy ears, are all signs of CWD. However, animals with other disease can display these symptoms and NOT have CWD. Similarly, animals with CWD could show no signs at all.
Surveillance on the Flathead Indian Reservation (FIR) first began in 2004 and continued for several seasons. Samples were collected from a limited number of deer from participating Tribal member hunters, and samples were also collected from road-killed deer, with no detection of CWD on the Reservation.
The Tribal Wildlife Management Program plans to begin surveillance efforts again on the FIR due to recent detection in Libby. They are requesting participation from successful deer, elk and both on/off reservation moose CS&KT Tribal member hunters. It is very important that hunters bring their harvested animal (head with first and second vertebrae attached) to the Tribal Wildlife Biologists within TWO days from the time of harvest; otherwise the sample cannot be collected.
Do not attempt to disturb, kill, or shoot an animal that looks sick. Report these animals and last known location to Tribal Dispatch at (406) 675-4700. For more information, please contact Dale Becker, Tribal Wildlife Management Program Manager at (406) 883-2888, ext 7278.