A moose in northwest Montana has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the first time the disease has been detected in the species in the state of Montana.
According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), a hunter harvested the bull moose in late October near Pulpit Mountain west of Quartz Creek and north of Troy. The harvest occurred less than half a mile to the west of the existing Libby CWD Management Zone.
After receiving a voluntary sample, Montana FWP submitted it for testing and identified it to be suspected of CWD infection. The positive detection was confirmed with a second test.
CWD is a fatal nervous system disease that afflicts deer, moose and elk and is caused by an abnormal protein. It can spread when an infected animal comes in contact with a healthy animal through soil, food and water contamination.
CWD was first detected in Libby, Montana earlier this year, which led to the creation of the Libby CWD Management Zone.
Since then, there have been a total of 30 positive detections in deer. Five of these were deer harvested by hunters during archery and general hunting seasons. Montana FWP explained in a release on November 14 that all detections of infected deer have occurred within the Libby CWD Management Zone, and all but one has been centralized near the city centre.
In B.C., a mandatory sampling program was implemented in September, which ordered hunters to submit the heads of harvested whitetail and mule deer to be tested for CWD.
This order is in effect during the hunting season from Sept. 1- Nov. 30.
So far, according to the wildlife and habitat branch of B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, there have been no confirmed cases of CWD in B.C.
Visible symptoms of CWD include thin bodies, drooling, poor coordination and stumbling. In B.C., anyone who observes an ungulate with those symptoms is encouraged to call the provincial Wildlife Health Program at 250 751-3219 or the Report all Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1 877 952-7277.
Montana FWP explained that there is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock, but recommended through the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that hunters harvesting a deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested for CWD prior to consuming the meat, and to not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.