Second deer in Libby suspected to have chronic wasting disease

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A sample from a second white-tailed deer in Libby is suspected positive for chronic wasting disease, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said late Friday in a press release.

The agency was notified of the suspect sample on Friday. The sample was tested at the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Confirmation of the sample is expected in the next week. The sample was collected from a white-tailed buck that appeared symptomatic and was removed from inside city limits near the site of the first detection. A sample from an additional deer collected outside of city limits was also submitted and no evidence of chronic wasting disease was detected.

This is the second detection of the disease in a white-tailed deer in Libby. The first detection, which occurred in late May and involved a doe that died inside city limits, marked the first time CWD was detected west of the Continental Divide in the wild. CWD was confirmed in the first detection.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Libby Police Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office are responding to reports of deer that appear sick and removing the animals for sampling.

For people in the Libby area who see a deer that appears to be sick, call 406-291-6539 and leave a message with your name, number, the location of the animal and the time you saw it.

The state agency has formed an Incident Command Team involving FWP staff from Libby, Kalispell, Bozeman and Helena to respond to the situation. The team presented initial information about the incident to city, county and state leaders in Libby and the Libby City Council on June 3 and presented at the Libby Transparency in Government meeting on June 4. A public meeting in Libby was held June 11.

Every resident and/or landowner within 20 miles of Libby is receiving a letter about the detection as well as FWP’s probable management actions moving forward. Additional public meetings will be announced and held in Libby, Kalispell and elsewhere in Northwest Montana this summer.

The next step in addressing the disease in and around Libby is to determine the geographic distribution and prevalence (i.e. percent of the herd infected) of disease in the herd by sampling deer.

This will involve FWP working with the City of Libby to sample in and around town, as well as within a larger Initial Response Area, a roughly 10-mile radius of the collection sites.

Chronic wasting disease is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. If left unmanaged so that a large percentage of a deer or elk herd becomes infected, the disease could cause significant population declines in the decades to come.

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