Montana game farm quarantined after positive elk CWD test


HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana game farm is under quarantine after an elk tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the state Department of Livestock reported.

The brain wasting disease hasn’t been identified in domestic deer or elk in the state since 1999, officials said.

The elk appeared healthy and was slaughtered for meat, but the illness was discovered in testing required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Herd Certification Program. State officials did not identify the game farm involved or say where it was located, citing confidentiality requirements.

The Livestock Department placed the herd under quarantine while the cause of the infection is investigated.

Montana law requires CWD-positive game farm herds to be quarantined for five years or for all the animals to be killed and tested for the disease.

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk and moose. Infected animals may carry the disease for years without showing signs of illness that in the later stages can lead to weight loss, lack of coordination and physical debilitation, the agency said. There is no known transmission of CWD to humans, however the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters harvesting an animal in areas with known CWD to have their animals tested and to not eat the meat if the animal tests positive.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has documented CWD in wild deer, elk and moose across much of Montana through surveillance that began in 2017. In 2019, approximately 7,000 wild deer, elk, and moose were sampled statewide, with 140 testing positive for CWD.