Urban deer density a concern as second moose tests positive for CWD near Libby - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Urban deer density a concern as second moose tests positive for CWD near Libby

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CASPER, Wyo. — A second moose harvested in the Libby, Montana area has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.

The bull moose was harvested by a hunter during the last week of the general hunting season near Fawn Creek inside of the Libby CWD Management Zone.

In spring 2019, CWD was first detected in the Libby area. A white-tailed deer tested positive for the disease, leading Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to set up the CWD Management Zone, which covers a ten mile radius around Libby.

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“To date, 61 white-tailed deer, two moose and one mule deer have tested positive for CWD in the Libby area,” Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks said on Friday, Jan. 17. “The first moose to test positive was harvested approximately half a mile outside the northwest corner of the Libby CWD Management Zone in late October.”

“The rest of the positives have all occurred within the Management Zone, and a majority were near the urban center of town.”

In the urban area of Libby, CWD has an “estimated prevalence” of 13%, compared with 4% in the overall Libby CWD Management Zone.

“FWP is working with the City of Libby as it considers an urban deer management plan that would reduce the density of deer in the Libby Survey Area and hopefully reduce the prevalence and spread of CWD,” said FWP Region 1 Wildlife Manager Neil Anderson.

Montana FWP is proposing that “an over-the-counter either-sex white-tailed deer B license for both the archery and general hunting seasons that would only be valid inside the Libby CWD Management Zone” be offered during the 2020 hunting season.

“This license would increase overall harvest of white-tailed deer within the Libby CWD Management Zone with the goal of reducing the spread of CWD,” the release states. “Public input is open until Jan. 27, and the Fish and Wildlife Commission will review this proposal at its February meeting.”

CWD can be fatal to mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose as it attacks their nervous systems.

“Transmission can most commonly occur through direct contact between cervids, as well as shed in urine, feces, saliva, blood and antler velvet from infected cervids,” Montana FWP says. “Carcasses of infected cervids may serve as a source of environmental contamination as well and can infect other cervids that come into contact with that carcass.”

“There is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested for CWD prior to consuming the meat, and to not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.”

Inside of the Libby CWD Management Zone, Montana FWP conducts efforts to monitor the disease.

“Surveillance efforts included sampling road-killed and symptomatic animals, deer trapped in the urban center of town, and hunter harvests of deer, elk and moose inside the CWD Management Zone,” the release stats. “More than 950 samples were collected and tested inside the Management Zone.”