Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has already devastated deer and elk herds across the American west, mid-west, and south-east. Montana had, up to now, been spared its ravages. The state confirmed its first cases in 2017, and has moved with speed and determination to limit the dread pestilence.
The 2018 big game season dawns with new rules issued by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department. According to FWP, the agency will now conduct more extensive tests for CWD at more game check stations. Hunters are reminded they must, by law, stop at any and all checkpoints and submit their game for inspection.
Additional restrictions are in place which limit game carcass transport and disposal in several counties. Hunters are prohibited from transporting whole deer or elk carcasses out of Liberty, Hill, or Toole counties, unless the animal has tested negative for CWD. Further, animals killed in specific Carbon county areas must remain in either Carbon or Yellowstone counties, unless it has tested negative for CWD. Hunters who do not process the carcass within those counties themselves must rely on local meat processors and taxidermists to prepare carcasses for safe transport.
FWP’s 2018 regulations state the following as to what game animal parts a hunter may take outside the counties listed above.
“Meat that is cut and wrapped or meat that has been separated
from the bone.
• Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal
column or head attached.
• Hides with no heads attached.
• Skull plates or antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
• Skulls that have been boiled and cleaned to remove all flesh and tissue”
CWD is caused by a protein prion which lives in soil and is spread by grazing animals. The prion is persistent, and defies most eradication efforts. It is a related to “Mad Cow” disease, and destroys an animal’s central nervous system.
For more information, contact Montana FWP, or visit their website, fwp.mt.gov.