White-tailed doe killed in Libby tests positive for 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)

Chronic wasting disease has been found in a white-tailed doe killed recently inside the Libby city limits, the first incidence of the disease west of the Continental Divide in Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officers killed the deer after residents reported seeing an emaciated, sick-looking doe. Initial test results came back positive for CWD earlier this week.

Results of a second test, needed for confirmation, are expected early next week.

State regulations mandate that FWP now assemble an incident command team to respond to the detection of a new case of CWD.

The team is working to outline an “incident response area” that covers a 10-mile radius of the site where the deer was killed. Inside that zone, FWP will determine the prevalence and distribution of CWD in other deer.

In addition, FWP will collect samples from road-killed deer in hunting districts 100, 101, 103 and 104.

On Thursday, FWP asked Libby area residents to be on watch for deer that appear sick. Anyone who see an emaciated, sick-looking deer should call 291-6539 and leave a message with your name, number, the location of the animal and the time you saw it.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose.

It is part of a group of diseases called Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). TSEs are caused by infectious, mis-folded prion proteins, which cause normal prion proteins throughout a healthy animal’s body to mis-fold, resulting in organ damage and eventual death.

“CWD is a slow-moving disease,” FWP said in announcing the test results. “However, left unmanaged, it could result in long-term population declines within affected herds. All the states and provinces that border Montana, other than Idaho and British Columbia, have found CWD in their wild cervids.”

CWD was first found in wild deer in Montana in October 2017. To date, CWD has been detected in Carbon, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Valley, Daniels, Sheridan and now Lincoln counties.

To prevent the spread of CWD within Montana, FWP establishes CWD Management Zones in areas where CWD has been found. Whole carcass, whole head or spinal column from any deer, elk, or moose harvested cannot be removed from these zones unless the animal has tested negative for CWD.