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The Montana general big game season opened Oct. 24, and hunters from around the state submitted lymph nodes from the lower jaw of their harvested animals to be tested for chronic wasting disease. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks collected a total of 352 samples. Most of the samples came from the northwestern Montana, where CWD was discovered last year.

Here is an FWP regional breakdown of sample numbers:

Region 1: 173
Region 2: 7
Region 3: 56
Region 4: 6
Region 5: 11
Region 6: 39
Region 7: 60

CWD is a contagious neurological disease that infects deer, elk and moose. It is always fatal and there is no known cure. It was first found in wild deer in Montana in 2017. It is not known to infect humans, but it is strongly recommended that people not eat meat from infected animals and to have their harvested animals tested before eating them if they were taken from an area where CWD is known to exist.

FWP is continuing CWD surveillance this year in priority surveillance areas located in northwest, southwest and eastern Montana. Hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in these areas are asked to voluntarily submit a sample from their animal to help gather additional data for that area. This information will be used to help inform the best management strategies for the affected hunting districts.

FWP will cover the cost of testing hunter-harvested animals for CWD. Hunters should look online for information on how to take a sample themselves and submit it for testing or bring animals by an FWP regional office for sampling. FWP will have CWD check stations in the priority surveillance areas. Sample submission is voluntary throughout Montana. For more information on these surveillance areas and how to submit samples for testing, visit