Libby City Council tables CWD management plan

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Libby City Council met Monday night to vote on forming a chronic wasting disease management plan for wildlife within the city limits.

“In light of CWD, we have to do something to start managing urban wildlife,” said Mayor Brent Teske.

Council member Rob Dufficy motioned to stall establishing a CWD management plan until members had time to do more research.

Other Montana communities with CWD have developed mitigation plans for symptomatic animals. Glendive, Fort Peck and Helena have each approved and implemented city-level wildlife management plans for CWD that can be used as a template for other CWD-ridden cities.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we do have to develop something for our area,” Teske said.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have been working with the city to manage symptomatic town deer.

FWP officials built several clover traps, essentially mesh cages, to catch deer. Once trapped, wildlife officials take the deer from the site and euthanize them to collect testing samples.

Neil Anderson, FWP wildlife specialist, said “the plan is for them [clover traps] to go to the city of Libby if they are able to get an urban management plan formed.”

Until a plan is formed, Mayor Teske said “it will move down to unfinished business for next meeting’s agenda.”

On Oct. 9, FWP released the latest CWD numbers for the Libby area and 18 white-tailed deer have tested positive.

There were seven that showed signs of the disease, four were road kills, three were harvested by hunters, two were euthanized for game damage, one was trapped and one was classified as “other.”

Five mule deer, three elk and one moose have been tested with no positives.

Statewide Sampling Information

If hunters are interested in having their harvested deer, elk or moose tested for CWD, this fall FWP will pay for sampling for hunters who collect their own samples and send them to the FWP lab in Bozeman.

Prior to the general season, hunters can collect samples themselves and mail them to the FWP Lab — instructions and a video are available on the FWP website.

Starting with the general season, hunters can still submit samples themselves or take the samples or a deer/elk/moose head to regional FWP offices for assistance.

Test results are usually available within three weeks. Hunters who harvest an animal that tests positive for CWD may receive a replacement 2019 license.

Hunters are encouraged to check with their preferred game processer to check on any potential CWD-related requirements.

Libby CWD Management Zone Special Regulations

The Libby CWD Management Zone encompasses roughly 10 miles around the detection sites. All deer, elk and moose harvested within the Libby CWD Management Zone must be checked and sampled within 3 days of harvest.

Hunters who quarter or bone out their animal in the field must bring the head for sampling.

Libby CWD Management Zone Legal Description: That portion of Lincoln County bounded on the North by Barron, Pipe and Seventeen Mile Roads; on the West by USFS Libby Ranger District Boundary; on the South by Bear and Libby Creeks and South boundaries of TWPs T29N, R29W and R30W; on the East by Fisher River to Montana 37, Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa.

Following the guidelines of Montana’s CWD Management Plan, FWP is scheduling a Special CWD Hunt in the Libby area this fall.

FWP sold 600 white-tailed deer antlerless B licenses that can only be used in the Libby CWD Management Zone, which includes portions of Hunting Districts 100, 103, and 104.

The hunt will occur at the same time as the archery and general hunting season and follow the same regulations for dates, weapon restrictions, and access.

Sampling Station and Check Station Information

Before Oct. 26, hunters who successfully harvest an animal in the Libby CWD Management Zone are required to bring the head to the FWP Libby Office, 385 Fish Hatchery Rd.

A collection site is set up for hunters to self-report and submit the head for testing.

During general big game season (Oct. 26 to Dec. 1), the Libby Special CWD Hunt Sampling Station (Montana Department of Transportation shop on US Hwy 2, mile marker 35) will be open every day from 11 a.m. – 1½ hours after sunset.

Hunters are only required to stop at the Sampling Station if they harvested an animal in the Libby CWD Management Zone.

The Canoe Gulch Check Station will be open weekends from 11 a.m. – 1½ hours after sunset during the general season and all hunters, with or without game, passing the check station must stop.

Hunters will be required to document the exact location of the kill inside the Libby CWD Management Zone.

Animals will be tagged with a unique identification number. Hunters can use that identification number to look up test results on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov/CWD.

Test results are usually available within three weeks. Hunters who harvest an animal that tests positive for CWD may receive a replacement 2019 license.

Carcass Restrictions

To reduce the spread of CWD, whole carcasses, whole heads or spinal columns cannot be taken out of the Libby CWD Management Zone unless the animal has tested negative for CWD.

Hunters are strongly encouraged to dispose of hides, bones and trimmings at approved landfills such as the such as the Lincoln County Landfill.

The spinal column may be left at the kill site but require landowner permission if on private land. If the carcass is processed within the CWD Management Zone, any brain and spinal parts must be discarded in the Lincoln County Landfill.

Background

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease affecting the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. There is no known transmission of CWD to humans or other animals, including pets or livestock.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that hunters harvesting a deer, elk, or moose from an area where CWD is known to be present have their animal tested for CWD prior to consuming the meat, and to not consume the meat if the animal tests positive.

For more information, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.

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