State wildlife officials ramp up efforts to detect chronic wasting disease

KALISPELL, Mont. – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are ramping up efforts this hunting season to detect cases of chronic wasting disease in the state’s deer, moose and elk populations.

Wildlife program manager Neil Anderson, of Kalispell’s FWP Region 1, told NBC Montana the name of the disease is fitting. Animals infected by chronic wasting disease can appear to be in poor health and famished.

Anderson said the disease is neurological, caused by a deformed protein and is ultimately deadly.

It is spread easily by contact, saliva and even contaminated soil, Anderson said.

Anderson says the disease has only been detected in areas surrounding Montana, including Wyoming, Idaho and South Dakota. 

It’s why wildlife officials have set up special check stations in southwest Montana to test for the disease.

In northwest Montana Anderson said officials are relying on hunters to report any game animals that are showing symptoms.

Although officials haven’t confirmed chronic wasting disease to be dangerous to humans, Anderson said they are still warning people not to eat any animals that could be contaminated.

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