CWD confirmed in deer shot south of Billings

A buck tracks a group people from a field near Timberline Road Tuesday morning.         Photo by Jenny Gessaman

A second test on a tissue sample from a buck harvested in hunting district 510, south of Billings, has come back positive for chronic wasting disease.

The buck was harvested Oct. 22 about 10 miles southeast of Bridger. Initial testing received by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks last week showed the animal was suspect for CWD. A second sample from the buck was sent to Colorado State University for follow-up testing.

“These were the results we expected,” said Barb Beck, FWP Region 5 supervisor and CWD incident command team lead. “Fortunately, we have a well-thought out response plan that will guide our steps moving forward.”  

The first test of a sample from a second buck was reported back as suspect on Tuesday. That buck was harvested on Nov. 5 about 3 miles south of Belfry in the same hunting district. A second sample from the animal is currently undergoing confirmation testing, and the results are expected next week.

FWP Director Martha Williams established an incident command team on Nov. 7 in response to the potential case of CWD. The team is comprised of FWP staff, as well as representatives from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, the Montana Department of Livestock, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Crow Nation.

The team is implementing a response outlined in FWP’s CWD Response Plan, which is currently out for public comment. The plan calls for establishing an initial response area for the purposes of a special CWD hunt. For the hunt to occur, it would need to be approved by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, and it would be held after the general hunting season. The goal of the hunt would be to harvest enough mule deer to establish disease prevalence and distribution.

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