Montana reports CWD in new areas, 2% positive rate
Tests for chronic wasting disease (CWD) among deer, moose, and elk harvested by hunters during the 2019-20 Montana hunting season found that 142 (2.0%) of 6,977 animals tested were confirmed to have the disease, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (MFWP) reported late last week.
Included among the affected cervids were the state's first CWD-positive moose (2) and elk (1). In addition, 86 white-tailed deer and 53 mule deer tested positive. CWD is a deadly neurologic prion disease that affects cervids (members of the deer family). Though the disease has not yet jumped to humans, some experts fear it could mimic bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow" disease).
In 2019, MFWP officials reported new CWD-positive areas in northwestern Montana near Libby, southwestern Montana near Sheridan and Twin Bridges, and in eastern and southeastern Montana. They also expanded the boundaries of known CWD-positive areas with new detections south of Highway 2 in northern Montana and north of the Yellowstone River in south-central Montana.
Among CWD-positive hunting districts, estimated disease prevalence ranged from less than 1% to 7% in mule deer and less than 1% to 4% in white-tailed deer, the MFWP said. In Libby, 13% of hunter-harvested or trapped white-tailed deer were positive for CWD, and 4% were positive outside of town within the Libby CWD management zone.
CWD was first discovered in the wild in Montana in 2017. Since then, the MFWP has tested 11,020 samples statewide.
Feb 7 MFWP news release
CWD expands range in Tennessee, with 2 newly affected counties
With two newly affected counties and a new county at high risk of CWD, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is encouraging more hunting to slow the spread of the disease, WTVF of Nashville reported.
"We need them to harvest animals because that's going to be one of the biggest ways were going to be able to control this disease and contain it," said TWRA information specialist Barry Cross.
For the first time, deer in Haywood and Chester counties in western Tennessee tested positive for CWD, according to a Jan 16 TWRA news release. And Lauderdale County, also in the west but bordering Arkansas, has been added to the state's list of high-risk counties after a deer in adjoining Tipton County tested positive within 10 miles of Lauderdale County.
"These changes are unfortunate, but were expected considering high prevalence rates in Hardeman and Fayette counties," said Chuck Yoest, TWRA's CWD coordinator. "The high prevalence there indicates CWD has been present in southwest Tennessee for years. However, in the rest of the state, surveillance results have us confident CWD is not present in the remainder of the state."