HELENA – The Montana First and Wildlife commission has unanimously adopted Montana’s Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is an always-fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, moose and caribou.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) says that it usually takes 1 ½ -2 years for an infected animal to die but the animal can spread the disease to others during that time.
FWP game management bureau chief John Vore introduced the plan before the commission which defines Montana’s CWD surveillance plan, Montana’s response to a detection of CWD, and ways to inform the public about the disease and the risks it poses to the state’s wildlife.
Vore says that the adoption of the CWD management plan means that Montana is now in long-term management for CWD.
“We’re in this for the long haul now,” says Vore, “CWD is here probably forever and we just need to deal with it.”
The plan was conceived by FWP CWD Action Team and the CWD Citizen Panel based on public comment and national research.
Vore also thanked the public for their involvement in helping to create the plan and their passion for Montana’s wildlife.
“We know that Montanans value what we have here,” says Vore, “Montana is a very special place and that’s why we live here.”
Joe Cohenour worked on the plan as for CWD Citizen Panel and says that we only need to look to our neighboring states to just how damaging CWD can be.
“Wyoming and Colorado have seen 30 percent herd reductions because of this,” says Cohenour.
Cohenour added that Montanans won’t stand for that kind of decimation of the wild game herds.
“[Montanans] would rather have us proactively manage it versus re-actively manage it,” says Cohenour.
Montana’s first case of CWD in the wild was found in October of last year and since then over a dozen more harvested deer have tested positive for the disease. The state has already held two special deer hunts to monitor its prevalence in areas where infected animals were found.