FWP boosts effort to detect bovine tuberculosis in wildlife

Fish, Wildlife & Parks

The threat of bovine tuberculosis spread via wildlife has prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to increase staffing at its Havre office and check station to collect more tissue samples from deer harvested in Blaine and Phillips counties.

In September, bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was discovered in a herd of cattle in northern Blaine County and then later in Phillips County. Bovine TB is a contagious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis and primarily affects cattle. The disease can be transmitted to nearly any mammal, including humans.

The Montana Department of Livestock is the lead agency for the investigation into this finding and any epidemiologically linked cattle herds. To date, bTB has not been detected in any additional cattle herds or in wildlife in the area.

However, testing harvested deer within the general area can help determine if the disease is in wildlife and, if so, what the distribution might be. 

“Sampling results from wildlife species that cross county borders and hunting district boundaries provide important pieces to the ongoing investigation of bTB on the landscape,” said Jennifer Ramsey, FWP wildlife veterinarian. “The cooperation of hunters is critical.”

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