Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials recently found a white-tailed doe that has initially tested positive Chronic Wasting Disease, the first instance west of the continental divide, and the animal was found within the Libby city limits.
Libby residents reported seeing an “emaciated and sick-looking” deer, according to a press release by FWP.
Results of a confirmation test are expected next week, according to the release.
An “incident command team” will define a 10 mile radious around where officials picked up the infected deer, according to the release. They will collect samples of road-killed deer and look into the disease’s prevalence and distribution within the area.
CWD is a slow-moving disease, but if it is left unchanged, the disease could result in long-term population decline of herds, according to the release. States bordering Montana, as well as Canada, have all found CWD in their deer.
FWP labels symptoms of deer with CWD as having a lack of muscle coordination, excessive salivation and often consuming large amounts of water.
Jennifer McCully, Lincoln County Public Health manager, said there are no health concerns or evidence as far as people becoming infected with the disease, at the moment.
However, “precautions should be taken,” she said. There are other similar diseases, such as mad cow disease, which can cause health problems for people.
McCully advised people to not eat the meat of an animal that appears sick. Health recommendations when handling all deer include not cutting through the brain or spinal cord of the deer, as well as using protective gear.
FWP advised residents in the Libby area, if they spot a deer appearing to be sick, to call 406-291-6539 and leave a message with their name, number and location of the sighting, as well as when they saw the deer.