BOZEMAN – On Thursday of this week in Fish & Wildlife, Morgan Jacobsen of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks shared information about a special management hunt planned for the Ruby Valley.
A chronic wasting disease (CWD) management hunt will be held for white-tailed deer on private and public lands in several hunting districts in southwestern Montana.
The main objective of this hunt is to reduce the density of white-tailed deer to slow the spread of CWD among white-tailed deer and reduce the likelihood of spread to mule deer, elk and moose. FWP also hopes to increase understanding of the distribution and prevalence of CWD through continued testing of deer shot by hunters.
The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Hunt will run from December 11 to February 15. Several licenses will be valid in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Hunting Zone, and each, including B licenses, will be valid for harvesting whitetail of both sexes:
• Unused 2021 General Deer License
• 003-00 B white-tailed deer license
• 399-00 white-tailed deer license B; this permit will remain available for purchase throughout the hunt with a limit of five per hunter
• White-tailed deer license B from any other hunting district
This hunt is only valid on private and Crown lands in these deer/elk hunting districts:
• HD 320 – Portions within the Jefferson River watershed. Parts of the Madison River watershed are excluded.
• HD 322
• HD 324
• HD 325 – Portions of the Blacktail Deer Creek watershed. Parts of the Beaverhead River watershed south of Barretts are excluded.
• HD 326
• HD 329
• HD 330 – Parts of the Ruby River watershed. Parts of the Madison River watershed are excluded.
• HD 331
• HD 340
As always, permission from the landowner is required before hunting. All other 2021 hunting regulations apply.
CWD in southwestern Montana
CWD is a contagious neurological disease that infects deer, elk and moose. It is always fatal and there is no known cure. It was first detected in wild herds in Montana in 2017. CWD was detected in white-tailed deer in the Ruby Valley in 2019. These deer are contiguous with white-tailed deer and moose in the valleys of Ruby, Jefferson, Beaverhead and Big Hole. They are seasonally linked to populations of elk, moose, and mule deer.
The observed prevalence of chronic wasting disease varies throughout the hunting area, with some localized parts reaching prevalence levels as high as 45%.
Hunters play an important role in FWP’s management efforts for chronic wasting disease. Without population reduction, prevalence is expected to increase over the next few years across these white-tailed deer populations.
Continuous CWD Sampling
Hunters participating in the management hunt are encouraged to submit samples for CWD testing, although it is not required. FWP has provided resources to help hunters collect and submit samples for testing themselves. These resources are available on the FWP website by visiting fwp.mt.gov/CWD.
Additionally, FWP will have personnel available to collect CWD samples from animals harvested from December 12. Staff will be stationed at the Madison County Fairgrounds (2 Fairgrounds Loop) at Twin Bridges on December 12 and 15 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They will also be stationed at FWP’s Butte Area Resource Office (1820 Meadowlark Lane) on December 13 and 14 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
From December 16 to February 15, sampling station locations and hours of operation will vary and will be posted on the FWP website. Visit go.usa.gov/xeAnD, then scroll down and click on “Sample Stations”.
CWD is not known to infect humans. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people not to eat meat from infected animals and to have their harvested animals tested before eating them if they were taken from an area where the disease is known to occur. chronic wasting disease exists. For more information on CDC recommendations, please visit go.usa.gov/xAcnc.