With another hunting season upon us, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is warning hunters to take extra precautions with some of their game meat this year, all because of widespread disease which has become an increasing concern for biologists.

We're talking about chronic wasting disease, or CWD, which first began showing up in some ungulate populations, primarily deer in Northwest and Southeast Montana a few years ago, but has since spread to Southwest Montana, and areas north of the Hi-Line. FWP says the disease is "100% fatal for ungulates, which includes deer, elk and moose.

Although it can't be passed to humans, state biologists are saying it remains important to have a complete testing program to try and track the spread of CWD among game populations across Montana.

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Testing is especially important for processed and donated game

This week, FWP issued its annual warning for hunters to have their harvested deer, elk, and moose tested before bringing them to a meat processor or donating to a local food bank. The state says it's not a requirement, but hunters are advised to have a negative test before processing or donating their animals. If an animal tests positive for CWD, hunters will be advised on proper carcass and meat disposal to try and help curb the spread of the disease.

Hunters can also get a replacement license if their game tests negative.

Montana FWP map
Montana FWP map
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No threat to humans, but…

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that hunters harvesting deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animals tested before consumption, and not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.

Hunters learn CWD sampling at a clinic; Montana FWP photo
Hunters learn CWD sampling at a clinic; Montana FWP photo
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FWP has been conducting workshops to show hunters how to test their game. Because of past reports of positive CWD tests, those workshops will be held in Billings on October 25th and in Harlowton on November 1st. Additionally, animals can be brought to select game check stations and FWP offices for testing, which is free.

For more information on CWD, go to fwp.mt.gov/cwd

States with the most registered hunters

Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

Gallery Credit: Meagan Drillinger

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