It is such a cruel fate for deer, elk, moose and other animals, and Montana, like so many other states, is seeing it spread.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is an always-fatal nervous system disease that has so far been detected in 29 states, including Montana. Just looking at an animal that is a victim of CWD can be a heartbreaking experience. Their skeletal appearance caused by drastic weight loss. Their disoriented lack of coordination. Their lack of fear in people due to  diminished instincts. An updated map provided by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks gives you a good illustration of the hardest-hit areas so far in Montana.

It has started to redefine what hunters are expected to do if they feel they have harvested an animal with signs of CWD. Reporting, testing and so forth. Though some advancements have already been made, there are still many questions about CWD's causes and its spread. While nothing has been confirmed, there have been some studies that have raised concerns that CWD could be a risk to humans.

This week, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, whose world headquarters are located in Missoula, donated an additional $100,000 to the existing funds of $450,000 that have so far been contributed to several research projects spearheaded by the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance. Hopefully, additional grants for studies will help biologists and game managers better develop management practices for vulnerable wildlife.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was founded over 37 years ago, and boasts over 230,000 members and 500 chapters worldwide. And naturally, as a founding member and sponsor of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, they are a proponent of science-based resource management.

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