Second moose tests positive for CWD

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A second moose has tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Northwest Montana.

A hunter harvested the bull moose during the last week of the general hunting season near Fawn Creek just southeast of Libby, according to a press release issued by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on Friday. The moose was harvested within the Libby CWD Management Zone near the southeastern boundary.

The state agency collected the sample from the moose on Dec. 1 at a Libby sampling station off U.S. 2 and submitted it for testing to the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. The lab identified it to be suspected of CWD infection on Jan. 14 and confirmed the positive detection Jan. 17 following a second test.

The first moose to test positive in the state was harvested in late October near Pulpit Mountain west of Quartz Creek and north of Troy approximately half a mile outside the northwest corner of the Libby CWD Management Zone.

Chronic wasting disease was first detected in the Libby area in the spring of 2019 after a white-tailed deer tested positive. FWP established the Libby CWD Management Zone, spanning a 10-mile radius around town, and began surveillance efforts to identify the prevalence and distribution of the disease. To date, 61 white-tailed deer, two moose and one mule deer have tested positive for CWD in the Libby area.

The estimated prevalence of the disease in the Libby urban area, identified as the Libby Survey Area, is approximately 13%. In the greater Libby CWD Management Zone, the estimated prevalence is nearly 4 percent.

“FWP is working with the city of Libby as it considers an urban deer management plan that would reduce the density of deer in the Libby Survey Area and hopefully reduce the prevalence and spread of CWD,” FWP Region 1 Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson said.

During the 2020 hunting season setting process, FWP is proposing an over-the-counter, either-sex white-tailed deer B license for both the archery and general hunting seasons that would only be valid inside the Libby CWD Management Zone. This license would increase overall harvest of white-tailed deer within the management zone with the goal of reducing the spread of CWD. Public input is open until Jan. 27, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission will review this proposal at its February meeting.

CWD is a fatal disease that can affect the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. Transmission can most commonly occur through direct contact between cervids, as well as shed in urine, feces, saliva, blood and antler velvet from infected cervids.

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