Fish, Wildlife and Parks will hold a pair of meetings in two Hi-Line towns to explain chronic wasting disease recently discovered north of Chester near the Canadian border.

The meetings are set for 7 p.m., Dec. 21, in Chester and Havre.

The Chester meeting will be in the town’s high school auditorium, 511 Main St.

The Havre meeting will be at the Hill County Electric Coop, 2121 U.S. Highway 2 NW.

At both meetings, FWP officials will present a background on the disease, what is known about the disease along the state’s northern border and what the department’s CWD draft management plan identifies for actions and management in the future.

A mule deer buck shot by a hunter Nov. 12 about 30 miles north of Chester near the Canadian border has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The deer was taken in hunting district 401 in Liberty County.

The test results mark the seventh incident of CWD discovered in Montana wild deer this fall. The other deer came from south of Billings, where more than 1,000 samples were taken from deer, elk and moose this fall. Until this year, CWD had not been found in Montana, though the disease exists in wild deer herds in Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

In anticipation of the disease coming to Montana, FWP recently updated its CWD response plan.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the central 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.

Though there is no evidence CWD is transmissible to humans, it is recommended to never ingest meat from animals that appear to be sick or are known to be CWD positive. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters who have harvested a deer, elk, or moose from a known CWD-infected area have the animal tested prior to consuming it. If hunters harvest an animal that appears to be sick, the best thing to do is contact FWP and have the animal inspected.

Some simple precautions should be taken when field dressing deer, elk or moose:

  • Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when field dressing.
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove these parts.)

For more information on CWD and FWP’s response, please look online HERE.