BILLINGS – Montana state biologists say the high percentage of deer testing positive for chronic wasting disease since last fall warrants a close watch on Carbon County herds, but management of the wildlife statewide will remain the same.

About 10 percent of the deer harvested in the Carbon County area during the 2017 season and 2018 special hunt tested positive for the disease, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials announced Tuesday. Statewide, only 2 percent of the 400 deer harvested tested positive, with 1 percent prevalence in white-tailed deer and 2 percent in mule deer.

Biologists typically boost management to control the disease if at least 5 percent of the herd is contaminated.  The high concentration of the disease in Carbon County means biologists will have to determine whether additional management for the disease is required in the future, said Emily Almberg, a wildlife research specialist at the FWP laboratory in Bozeman.

During the special Carbon County hunt, which ended Feb. 15, samples were tested from 215 mule deer and 112 white-tailed deer at Colorado State University. Eight mule deer and two white-tailed deer tested positive for CWD in southern Carbon County.

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A special hunt was also held north of Chester.

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 surveillance throughout south central Montana.

More information about CWD is available online to