FWP studying chronic wasting disease after Libby incident

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 11:42:20-04

LIBBY – Fish wildlife and parks are managing chronic wasting disease with the first case west of the Continental Divide.

FWP tells MTN the first CWD case found in wild deer in Montana dates back to October 2017. Last week FWP said that a sick white-tailed doe was found within city limits of Libby infected with CWD. FWP collected the animal after residents in Libby reported seeing a very emaciated and sick-looking deer. FWP says initial test results came back positive for CWD.

Found only in deer species, Neil Anderson with FWP says people should be on the lookout for emaciated deer, elk or moose drooling near water sources. Anderson says CWD is not a virus, bacteria or fungus but is a misfolded prion protein. The misfolded protein results in fatal organ damage. These proteins are transferred through fluids and can not be transferred to humans, pets or livestock.

However, there is a way people can prevent the spread of CWD.

All the states and provinces that border Montana, other than Idaho and British Columbia, have found CWD in their wild cervids. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

“People taking carcasses that have CWD and depositing them someone where, where we don’t. So, the human vector moving animals across landscapes is one of our big concerns,” explains Anderson.

According to Montana’s DPHHS, people who consume game often should not consume animals that test positive for CWD or that appear sick. CWD is found mostly in lymph nodes, tonsils and spleen of the infected animal. People should wear protective gloves in the field when dressing carcasses and avoid cutting through the brain or spinal cord and minimize handling of nervous tissue.

As a response, FWP has gathered an incident command team to Libby that will study a 10-mile radius of where the initial deer was found.

FWP asks that for people in Libby who see a deer, moose or Elk that appear to be sick please call 406-291-6539 and leave a message with your name, number, and location of the animal and the time you saw it.