Recently, we covered the creation of a new late season hunt in Montana. The main reason for this late season hunt was to combat Chronic Wasting Disease. The areas that the hunts took place have a high density of whitetail deer, high deer density is believed to accelerate the spread of CWD.
During the extended late season whitetail deer hunts more deer have tested positive for CWD. 305 harvested deer were tested from the hunt. After the results were in, 52 deer ended up testing positive for CWD. That means that roughly 17% of the harvested deer had CWD.
The Hunt for CWD in Montana
This hunt was approved because biologists knew that CWDs prevalence in the units was incredibly high. Across the units, the prevalence was averaged at 21% of deer are infected with CWD. Likewise, in certain areas, biologists have seen infection rates of nearly 50%. During previous studies, researchers have found that if the prevalence of CWD reaches over 5% it begins to spread at an accelerated rate. CWD is a fatal disease that can infect members of the deer family. The CDC strongly recommends that humans do not eat any meat from an animal that is infected with CWD.
“Montana’s annual deer harvest survey and population trend surveys, once completed this spring, will provide information on how much the management hunt helped reduce white-tailed deer densities in this area. Thousands of white-tailed deer are counted each year. Those portions of white-tailed deer infected with CWD are contiguous with white-tailed deer and moose throughout the Ruby, Jefferson, Beaverhead, and Big Hole valleys. They are seasonally connected to migratory populations of elk, moose, and mule deer.” – MFWP News Release
Biologists hope that thinning the whitetail deer density in the Ruby Valley will prevent the spread of CWD to other deer, elk, and moose in the area. CWD was first detected in Carbon County, Montana in 2017. Since that time, it has been found in 18 counties throughout the state.