It’s official. Montana has CWD. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department announced they had confirmed Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in two mule deer harvested in the state’s south-central portion. While CWD migration from the Dakotas into Montana has been suspected for several years, the disease had not been found in resident deer populations until now. Montana FWP has established an incident command team to formulate mitigation strategies.
Chronic Wasting disease first appeared in Colorado and has since spread into the central and northern plains states. Its effect on deer are similar to “Mad Cow Disease.” It attacks an animal’s central nervous system and they undergo a prolonged, debilitating, and painful death. It is caused by a prion protein which lives in soil, and migrates when infected animals excrete onto the ground where it is picked up by uninfected animals as they graze. Most experts agree CWD is not transmittable to humans at this time. Hunters are cautioned to avoid exposure to game animals’ bodily fluids, and in particular, cerebral spinal fluid and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) tissues. They also advise to cook all game meat thoroughly.
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