State hopes to sample hundreds of white-tails

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The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ response to the recent discovery of chronic wasting disease in a white-tailed deer in Libby includes tentative plans for the killing and sampling of roughly 200 white-tailed deer within the city and the sampling of at least another 200 white-tailed deer killed by hunters this fall within a 10-mile radius of Libby.

Neil Anderson, wildlife program manager and chronic wasting disease expert for Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Region One, said Friday the department must get city approval for killing deer within Libby.

He said hunters during regular hunting season would be enlisted to provide white-tailed deer for sampling.

Anderson said deer are now in fawning season and that it’s best to wait until fall to launch the collection effort.

“None of this is going to happen immediately,” he said.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced late last month that an emaciated white-tailed doe killed in Libby had tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The department said it was the first time the disease had been detected in the wild west of the Continental Divide.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks will host a public meeting Tuesday in Libby to discuss chronic wasting disease and the agency’s response. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room at Libby City Hall on Spruce Street.

Chronic wasting disease is a progressive, always fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. There is no known transmission of the disease to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock.

The disease is slow acting, degenerative and always fatal. The name comes from the appearance of symptomatic animals, which get very skinny and sick-looking before they die.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk or moose from an area where chronic wasting disease is known to be present have their animal tested prior to consuming the meat, and to not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.

Chronic wasting disease was first found among wild deer in Montana in 2017.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks said an incident command team has been assembled to respond to the detection of chronic wasting disease in the Libby deer.

The department said people in the Libby area who see a deer that appears to be sick should call 406-291-6539 and leave a message with their name, number, the location of the animal and the time of the sighting. Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Libby City Police are working together to respond to these reports.

Reporter Duncan Adams may be reached at dadams@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4407.

breakout:

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Libby about response to chronic wasting disease detection in a white-tailed deer in Libby.

The meeting will be held at Libby City Hall, Ponderosa Room, 952 E. Spruce St.

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