Newspaper article The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT)

Agencies, Scientists Battle Chronic Wasting Disease

Newspaper article The Billings Gazette (Billings, MT)

Agencies, Scientists Battle Chronic Wasting Disease

Article excerpt

The spread of chronic wasting disease in some areas of Wisconsin has infected 30 to 50 percent of adult whitetail deer like this one. (BRETT FRENCH, Billings Gazette)

As of Aug. 1, 2018, there were 226 counties in 23 states with reported CWD in free-ranging cervids. This map is based on the best-available information from multiple sources, including state wildlife agencies and the United States Geological Survey. (CDC)

Fish, Wildlife & Parks' technicians Jessica Goosmann, left, and Sean Flynn cut lymph nodes from the head of a mule deer doe harvested during Montana's first chronic wasting disease hunt, which started on Dec. 15, 2017. (BRETT FRENCH, Billings Gazette)

FWP technician Jessica Goosmann, left, tries to pinpoint the location where Sarah Crow, center, shot her mule deer doe during the Bridger Special CWD Hunt on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. At right is Crow's husband, Jake. (BRETT FRENCH, Billings Gazette)

CWD can cause declines in whitetail deer populations of 20 to 25 percent. (BRETT FRENCH, Billings Gazette)

As Montana deer and elk hunters prepare for their favorite fall hunts, there’s a black cloud hanging on the horizon.

“Chronic wasting disease is the biggest problem facing deer and elk on the landscape right now,” said John Vore, Game Management Bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Vore was one of several scientific and agency officials attending the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s recent meeting in Bozeman where CWD was one of the main topics. Conservation organization and hunting trade representatives also spoke, and the CWD talks were decidedly dark.

The disease

Chronic wasting disease is caused when proteins in the brains of cervids — which includes deer, elk and moose — misfold. When those misfolded proteins, which may protect the brain in their unaltered form, contact other proteins in the brain they also misfold. Unable to rid itself of the proteins, the brain sees a buildup that eventually creates holes in the brain tissue.

CWD is always fatal. It may take one-and-a-half to two years or more for symptoms of the disease to appear. …

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