Deer hunting season in Montana ended on Sunday, but Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is getting ready to sell another 1,000 deer licenses as part of a special hunt. FWP wants to gather 300 additional deer samples to determine the prevalence of chronic wasting disease.
Plans for the special hunt were set into motion after the discovery of the fatal disease in two mule deer bucks this fall.
The bucks that tested positive were both found in hunting district 510 in south central Montana.
These are the first cases of the disease to be found in Montana’s wildlife. FWP’s response plan for the detection of chronic wasting disease calls for the special hunt not so much to decrease deer numbers, as to determine how widespread the disease is.
Jennifer Ramsey is a wildlife veterinarian with FWP.
“We need to have a better understanding of where the disease is and what proportion of the animals are infected,” she says.
Agency officials hope to have the licenses go on sale by mid-December for a hunt that would last through mid-January.
“We don’t have a good live animal test that we can use to test a large number of animals," she says. "So the best way to do that is to have hunters help us.”
The hunt would be isolated to the area where the disease has been detected.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission will meet next week to consider granting the licenses for the special hunt.