It’s Spreading, but where?
Everyone knows chronic waste disease (CWD) is spreading. But the Mule Deer Foundation is reporting where the disease could now be in Montana, where a hunter-harvested mule deer is suspected of having CWD, according to Montana Fish Wildlife and Park (FWP).
The muley was killed in late October about 10 miles southeast of Bridger, Montana. The Mule Deer Foundation reports a sample collection taken from the muley then came back suspect, and the deer has since been sent to Colorado State University for more testing.
If suspicions are confirmed, this will be the first deer in Montana to test positive for CWD.
“While we have been lucky so far to not have this disease affect big game in Montana, we suspected it was a matter of time before chronic wasting disease would be found in the state,” Mule Deer Foundation Montana Regional Director Chad Klinkenborg said in a press release. “This is why Montana MDF chapters contributed $5,000 to FWP for their CWD surveillance and detection efforts. FWP has put together an excellent CWD response plan that was presented to the Fish and Wildlife Commission this week, and we stand ready to help them respond to this challenge.”
how will montana respond?
As of November 18, no one really knows.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Greg Lemon, a spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said agency staffers are planning a special hunt to gather more samples to test, but they aren’t sure where to hunt or how many animals to take.
“It feels like it’s a sprint right now, but we’re going to be in this for the long-term,” Lemon told the newspaper.
What is CWD?
Chronic wasting disease is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer (whitetail and muley), elk and moose, according to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
According to the website, CWD is often compared to mad cow disease, but a substantial difference is there’s no evidence humans can be affected by CWD.
The origin and spread of CWD is unknown, but, according to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, it was first recognized as a syndrome in captive a mule deer in Colorado research facilities in the late 1960s. It was not identified, however, until the ’70s.
By the Numbers
There are currently 23 states and two Canadians provinces affected by CWD. The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance has a map on its website showing those affected, which can be viewed here.