KALISPELL - Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is offering free clinics to teach hunters how to collect lymph node samples from animals to have them tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) as hunting season gets underway.
CWD is a progressive, fatal neurological disease that infects members of the deer family, such as mule and white-tailed deer, elk, and moose.
Animals may be infected and contagious for a very long time, sometimes two years or longer, before symptoms appear.
An animal can appear perfectly healthy and still be infected which is why testing is so important.
FWP spokesman Dillon Tabish says the agency will pay for the testing of all CWD samples.
A particular zone of concern is the Libby area where white-tailed deer, mule deer and moose have tested positive in recent years.
Tabish said testing samples is the best way to protect herds from contracting the disease.
“So, at these clinics, we’re going to have deer heads that we’ve collected, and hunters can bring their own tools, if bow hunters have a harvest that they would like to practice on themselves, bring it in, and we’re going to show you how to collect that lymph node in the neck area and then how to submit it for testing,” said Tabish.
The clinic in Libby — in partnership with Libby Sports Center — is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the sporting goods store, which is located at 204 West Ninth Street.
The clinic in Kalispell — in partnership with the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Flathead Chapter — is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the FWP office at 490 North Meridian in Kalispell.