(Montana FWP photo)

BOZEMAN – A mule deer found Wednesday morning south of Billings is undergoing additional tests for Chronic Wasting Disease.

Officials with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks say the deer tested as a suspect positive, meaning another test will be run on the animal to confirm.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal condition found in deer, elk and moose in several parts of the United States.

Recently it was confirmed in northern Wyoming, so FWP began actively looking for the disease in an area south of Billings this hunting season.

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FWP says the early recognition is key to working to stop the disease spreading.

“Thankfully we did have measures in place and this is why we ramped up surveillance now,” said Andrea Jones, FWP Region 3 spokesperson. “We knew it was close and it was going to be a matter of time. Again, I should caution again that this is a suspect sample there is the possibility that it would be returned negative, however, we are proceeding as if it is positive and putting those steps in place so we are doing what we can at this stage to contain.”

Jones says hunters in the suspected region should not eat any animal taken until it has been tested.

FWP offers some simple precautions to take when field dressing deer, elk or moose:

  • Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when field dressing.
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out of a carcass will essentially remove all of these parts.)

MTN’s Chet Layman