KALISPELL — Through opening weekend of the general hunting season, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has collected more than 170 samples from harvested deer, elk and moose to test for chronic wasting disease across northwest Montana.
All together, hunters submitted samples from 15 elk, 11 mule deer, one moose and 146 white-tailed deer at FWP CWD Sampling Stations in the region during opening weekend.
The general deer and elk hunting season runs through Nov. 29.
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that infects deer, elk and moose. It is always fatal and there is no known cure. It was first found in wild deer in Montana in 2017. It is not known to infect humans, but it is strongly recommended that people not eat meat from infected animals and to have their harvested animals tested before eating them if they were taken from an area where CWD is known to exist.
FWP is continuing CWD surveillance this year in priority surveillance areas located in northwest, southwest and eastern Montana. Hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in these areas are asked to voluntarily submit a sample from their animal to help gather additional data for that area. This information will be used to help inform the best management strategies for the affected hunting districts.
FWP will cover the cost of testing hunter-harvested animals for CWD. Hunters should look online for information on how to take a sample themselves and submit it for testing or bring animals by an FWP regional office for sampling. FWP will have CWD sampling stations in the priority surveillance areas. Sample submission is voluntary throughout Montana. For more information on these surveillance areas and how to submit samples for testing, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.
In northwest Montana, FWP has established CWD sampling stations where hunters can voluntarily stop for assistance collecting samples to submit for testing. The sampling stations will be open 11 a.m. to dusk on weekends, as well as Mondays at certain locations. The sampling stations will be located at U.S. Highway 2 West of Kalispell, Montana Highway 83 north of Swan Lake, Highway 200 west of Thompson Falls, and Highway 93 near Olney. Near Libby, a sampling station will operate Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, 11 a.m. to dusk at the Montana Department of Transportation shop on U.S. Highway 2 south of town.
FWP will also operate a sampling station in Eureka at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds on Mondays from 11 a.m. to dusk and at Thompson Falls the sampling station will operate on Mondays from 11 a.m. to dusk.
FWP will also assist hunters with sample collection and submission at its office in Kalispell, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hunters who want their animal sampled are reminded to leave 2 to 4 inches of the neck below the low jawbone and base of the skull to ensure lymph nodes are present and not inadvertently left with the carcass. Samples cannot be collected from frozen heads.
General Hunting Season Reminders in Northwest Montana
Hunters are reminded to review the regulations for specific rules in each hunting district.
As a reminder, hunters who purchased the 199-20 either-sex white-tailed deer B license can only use that license within the Libby CWD Management Zone.
Mule deer buck hunting in the North Fisher portion of Hunting District 103 near Libby is permit-only.
Hunters are reminded to “Be Bear Aware” and properly store food and carcasses. Hunters should avoid hanging carcasses near houses or garages. Carcasses must be suspended at least 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet out from any upright support. Hunters are encouraged to carry bear spray and know how to use it. More food storage and safety information are available on the FWP website, fwp.mt.gov.
Residents can call Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional office for more information. In northwest Montana, call (406) 752-5501.
2020 CWD Sampling Stations in Northwest Montana (Region 1)
General Hunting Season
For questions, call (406) 752-5501 or visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd
FWP Region 1 Office, Kalispell:
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Montana Department of Transportation shop on US Hwy 2: Saturdays, Sundays & Mondays, 11 a.m. – dusk. (Canoe Gulch check station will be closed)
US Highway 2 west of Kalispell:
Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m. – dusk
Highway 83 north of Swan Lake: Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m. – dusk
Highway 200 on the west end of Thompson Falls: Saturdays, Sundays & Mondays, 11 a.m. – dusk
Highway 93: Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m. – dusk
Lincoln County Fairgrounds, Mondays, 11 a.m. – dusk