Tissue samples from more than 200 deer shot in south-central Montana have all tested negative for chronic wasting disease so far, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

The samples were taken between Livingston and Billings as part of a beefed up CWD surveillance program in specific areas of Montana. The bulk of the samples collected are from deer taken in the northern portions of the priority surveillance area. FWP scientists would still like to see more tissue from deer harvested in the southern parts of the area.

“To be thorough in our surveillance, we need to make sure we get samples from throughout our priority area,” said Emily Almberg, FWP disease ecologist at the Wildlife Health Lab in Bozeman.

Specifically, Almberg is hoping for more samples along the Wyoming–Montana border, south of Livingston, Big Timber and Billings.

Most samples are collected from game check stations and cooperating meat processors and taxidermists. Hunters will receive a card with a sample number. That number can be checked online along with the list of results at fwp.mt.gov/CWD.

Chronic wasting disease has not been discovered in Montana’s wild populations of deer, elk and moose, but as the disease continues to expand to the north, south and east of the state, FWP officials believe it is only a matter of time before it hits Montana.

If hunters harvest deer, elk or moose within the priority surveillance area and miss submitting a sample at a check station, they can take the head of the animal into FWP regional offices in Bozeman and Billings. Sampling involves the removal of lymph nodes near the base of the head around the esophagus.

Though there is no evidence CWD is transmissible to humans, it is recommended to never ingest meat from animals that appear to be sick or are known to be CWD positive. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters who have harvested a deer, elk, or moose from a known CWD infected area to have the animal tested prior to consuming it. If hunters harvest an animal that appears to be sick, the best thing to do is contact FWP and have the animal inspected.

FWP’s CWD surveillance plan calls for rotating surveillance efforts among three priority areas of the state: south-central, southeast and north-central/east.

For more information and to look at test results, go online to fwp.mt.gov/CWD.