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Second Chronic Wasting Disease Survey Hunt Planned

Mule deer.
Mule deer.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission gave the go-ahead for a second chronic wasting disease hunt Thursday. The hunt will take place north of Chester along the Canadian border.

Nick Gevock, the conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation, says special CWD hunts are part of an initial response and help wildlife managers determine prevalence of the disease.

"That’s the purpose of this early hunt. After we get a determination of that, then we start talking about management activity. So what do we want to do? It might be dramatically bringing down deer numbers in those areas where they’re hotspots."

A mule deer buck harvested last month north of Chester made the area the second in the state with a confirmed case of CWD in wildlife. Six other cases were found in southern Montana.

The second hunt will begin January 6 and end February 15 unless the sample quota is reached before then.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks expects to sell 335 licenses in an effort to harvest 135 mule deer. Those licenses will go on sale December 26.

Montana’s first special CWD hunt started last week south of Laurel. The 1,200 deer tags available for the Laurel hunt sold out within a few hours.

Gevock says acting quickly after the discovery of the disease is important for successful management.

"That’s the key to chronic wasting disease. It’s a lot like aquatic invasive species or noxious weeds like spotted knapweed. You have to be very aggressive early."

In populations in Wyoming where the disease has been largely unmanaged for decades, researchers say there has been a nearly 20 percent annual decline in mule deer populations.

Maxine is the Morning Edition Host and reporter for MTPR. She got her start at MTPR as a student intern reporting for Montana News during the 2017 fire season.
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