Kalispell, MT — A sample from a second white-tailed deer in Libby is suspected positive for chronic wasting disease.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks was notified of the suspect sample on June 14. 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 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 CWD was detected.
This is the second detection of CWD 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 that CWD was detected west of the Continental Divide in the wild. CWD was confirmed in the first detection.
FWP, 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, please call (406) 291-6539 and leave a message with your name, number, the location of the animal and the time you saw it. FWP, Libby City Police and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office are working together to respond to these reports.
FWP is working closely with the City of Libby and Lincoln County to develop a CWD surveillance plan. In accordance with FWP’s CWD response plan, FWP formed an Incident Command Team involving FWP staff from Libby, Kalispell, Bozeman and Helena to respond to the situation.
The FWP Incident Command Team presented initial information about the incident to city, county and state leaders in Libby and the Libby City Council on June 3. The Incident Command Team also 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 CWD 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 (IRA). This IRA will encompass a roughly 10-mile radius of the collection sites.
There are no good tests for live animals, so FWP will be sampling deer removed by agency staff and hunter-harvested deer, elk, and moose within the IRA. Samples will be collected in Libby, and FWP is working closely with the city on where and how sampling is occurring. To accurately determine disease prevalence, FWP will sample at least 200 deer within the IRA, which is only a small percent of the total deer in the larger area. FWP will also sample road-killed deer, elk and moose. Sampling outside of town will happen during hunting season and details about the size and description of the IRA, game check stations and how to get an animal sampled will be forthcoming.
CWD 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, CWD could cause significant population declines in the decades to come.
There is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested for CWD prior to consuming the meat, and to not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.
CWD has been in Montana since at least 2017. These prions are found throughout bodily tissues and secretions and are shed into the environment before and after death. When other animals encounter the prions, either from infected animals (contacting saliva/feces) or from contaminated environments (eating grass on infected soil), they can be infected. FWP has campaigned across the state informing residents to dump carcasses at proper landfills to avoid releasing CWD into the ground on public or private property.
For accurate, up-to-date information, please visit the FWP website or FWP Region 1 Facebook page (facebook.com/MontanaFWP.R1).