Hunters quickly swooped up the 600 licenses that went on sale the morning of Aug. 19 as part of the Libby special chronic wasting disease hunt.
At 8 a.m., the antlerless white-tailed deer B licenses were available to purchase over the counter at a dozen locations in Northwest Montana, including throughout Lincoln County. By 9:50 a.m., barely 60 remained. At 10 a.m., any remaining licenses became available to purchase online and at all license providers, and by 10:13 a.m., they were sold out. Each hunter was able to purchase up to two licenses.
The licenses are only eligible inside the new Libby CWD Management Zone, which encompasses an approximately 10-mile radius around Libby and includes portions of Hunting Districts 100, 103, and 104. The licenses are only eligible during the archery and general hunting seasons and follow the same regulations for dates, weapon restrictions, and access.
The special licenses are in response to the detection of chronic wasting disease in the Libby area. Following the guidelines of Montana’s CWD Management Plan, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is holding the hunt to help biologists determine the prevalence and distribution of CWD in the area and to reduce its spread.
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.
All deer, elk and moose harvested within the Libby CWD Management Zone, including any harvested with a Libby Special CWD Hunt B license and any harvested with any other type of license, must be checked and sampled within 3 days of harvest. Animals can be checked at either the new Libby Special CWD Hunt Sampling Station (Montana Department of Transportation shop on US Hwy 2, mile marker 35) or the Canoe Gulch Check Station. Hunters who quarter or bone out their animal in the field must bring the head for sampling.
Before Oct. 26, hunters who successfully harvest an animal are required to bring the head to the FWP Libby Office, 385 Fish Hatchery Rd. A collection site will be 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 will be open every day from 11 a.m. – 1 1/2 hours after sunset. Hunters are only required to stop at the Sampling Station if they harvested an animal. 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. 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 roughly three weeks. Hunters who harvest an animal that tests positive for CWD may receive a replacement 2019 license.
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. If the carcass is processed within the CWD Management Zone, any brain and spinal parts must be discarded in the Lincoln County Landfill.
For more information about CWD in Montana, visit fwp.mt.gov/cwd.
The next CWD Public Information Meeting in Libby is Wednesday, Aug. 28 – Libby, Ponderosa Room, City Hall, 952 East Spruce St., 6 p.m.