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Free clinics in Libby, Kalispell to teach hunters how to collect CWD samples

by The Western News
| September 23, 2022 7:00 AM

This fall, staff in Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Region 1 (northwest Montana) will be offering free clinics to teach hunters how to collect lymph node samples from the animals they harvest to have them tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

FWP staff are partnering with local sportsmen’s groups and businesses to offer the training clinics in Libby and Kalispell, and the courses are open to all interested hunters.

Attendees will learn about FWP’s plan to monitor for CWD this fall and get hands-on practice removing lymph nodes for testing. Equipment will be provided, but hunters can bring their own knives as well as recently harvested deer.

The clinic in Libby, in partnership with Libby Sports Center, is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 27, from 6-7:30 p.m. in the parking lot of the sporting goods store, 204 West Ninth Street.

The clinic in Kalispell, in partnership with the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Flathead Chapter, is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 4 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the FWP office in Kalispell, 490 North Meridian.

“Hunting is the primary tool for monitoring and managing the spread of CWD, and we rely heavily on hunters to help us in this effort,” Regional wildlife manager Neil Anderson said. “Our goal with these clinics is to offer hands-on instruction to help hunters learn how they can collect their own samples. We’ve also developed an instructional video on our website that show how to collect samples.”

CWD sampling is voluntary in Montana. Hunters can have their deer, elk, or moose tested for CWD. FWP is paying for the testing of samples.

Hunters can either take the samples themselves, fill out an online hunter submission form and mail them to the Wildlife Health Lab in Bozeman, or they can bring the animal (or head) to an FWP regional office or CWD Sampling Station this fall.

In recent years, FWP has detected CWD in white-tailed deer, mule deer and moose in the Libby area.

Hunters need to be aware of the Libby CWD Management Zone (MZ) and its boundaries, which includes portions of Hunting Districts 100, 103 and 104.

In 2020, a single CWD-positive whitetail buck was detected outside the management zone near the Thompson Chain of Lakes, and another CWD-positive was discovered outside the management zone in 2021.

Hunters wishing to have harvested deer, elk and moose tested can submit samples themselves, visit the Libby CWD Sampling Station (Montana Department of Transportation shop on U.S. Highway 2, mile marker 35) on weekends during the general season or stop by the FWP office in Kalispell (490 North Meridian) during business hours Monday through Friday.

FWP staff’s ability to collect samples at game check stations will be limited and will occur only if it can be done safely and check stations are not busy.

Hunters are encouraged to submit samples for testing, particularly in the Libby CWD Management Zone, so FWP can better assess the status of CWD in northwest Montana.

Visit https://fwp.mt.gov/cwd for more information.