BILLINGS – Hunters killed and harvested 216 mule deer and 123 white-tailed deer during a special hunt near Bridger, which ended Thursday, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported Friday.
Samples from seven of those mule deer in southern Carbon County and one white-tailed deer near Joliet have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, or CWD. Those infected represent about 2 percent of the total take.
Another deer killed in northern Liberty County along the Hi-Line in a separate hunt also tested positive for the disease, according to FWP.
Wildlife officials are still waiting for results from the deer killed in the final weeks of the season.
CWD is a progressive, fatal neurological disease that effects deer, elk and moose. It has been present for some years in states and Canadian provinces north, east and south of Montana, but was first found in wild deer in the state this fall during focused CWD surveillance throughout south central Montana.
Wildlife officials scheduled the two-month special season in Carbon County and Northern Montana to track where CWD was present and the percentage of the population affected. Biologists set a quota of 200 mule deer and 200 white-tailed deer.
The disease was first found last fall southeast of Bridger during the big game season. It was the first time CWD had been found in wild game herds in Montana.
Once the final numbers are in, FWP biologists will determine the next steps in trying to keep CWD from spreading. Already the department has established a “transportation restriction zone” that precludes hunters from removing certain parts of deer killed in much of Carbon County to anyplace other than Carbon and Yellowstone counties.