Gruesome work keeps Montana FWP on top of wildlife disease

Gruesome work keeps FWP on top of wildlife disease. Technicians testing deer to see if chronic wasting disease is present in state.  By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff.

So far no CWD in Montana, probably a tribute to the  insistence by Montana FWP that wintering wildlife in the state  not be fed and the tough stance Montana voters took on “game farms,” and, as someone commented below because Wyoming wolves have been killing CWD-infected deer and elk before the reach in Montana border. Of course the wolves will be gone if Wyoming’s wolf plan, now just approved, is actually implemented.






  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    A couple of comments on CWD
    1. The guys in the photos examining the deer heads need surgical masks and gowns for their own protection. There was an article on the internet a week or so ago about slaughterhouse workers contracting some sort of illness from cleaning brain tissue out of cow skulls.

    2. One of the reasons CWD hasn’t spread to Montana is that there is buffer zone full of wolves between Montana and the areas with CWD. The wolves are very efficient in eliminating diseased wildlife.

    Larry Thorngren

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Good point on the lack of mask. When a person dies of CJ disease or variant CJ disease (mad cow disease). It it difficult to even get someone to do an autopsy due to perceived danger from the prions potentially released into the air.

    I think you’re right about the wolves too, but wolves are such a great symbol for Freudenthal that sanitation is far from his mind, I would think.

  3. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Ralph, I disagree with your statement: “Wyoming wolves have been killing CWD-infected deer and elk before they reach in Montana border.”

    Chronic wasting disease, like the other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, can take years for their host to show symptoms, plenty of time for ungulates to cross state lines while carrying (and dropping) the agent, prions, which are malformed proteins; prions are not alive and are very difficult to destroy.

    I think chronic wasting disease is the sleeper of all wildlife diseases and we’ll not know the significance of this disease for decades to come.

    This is why, in order to protect the public, the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with Center for Disease Control should immediately terminate any and all grazing allotments in areas where CWD is found. Why? Because ungulates drop prions in the environment; the prions survive harsh environments; privately owned livestock graze over them and consume them; the prions could then mutate into a form that could harm humans that eat the livestock, OR they prions could pass, through livestock meat (prions have been found in blood), into humans and then mutate into a form that causes this brain disease in humans.

    Sound far fetched?

    1. It is believed that scrapie, the sheep form of this brain disease, mutated into “Mad Cow” that mutated into new varient Creutzfeld Jacobs disease that killed hundreds of people in Great Britain.

    2. Scrapie mutated into chronic wasting disease.

    Who’s to say the prions in chronic wasting disease can’t mutate?

    And the heck of it is, because it takes years for any of this to happen, we may not know the dangers for decades to come.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  4. Buffaloed Avatar

    Wolves do have an uncanny way of finding prey that is compromised. It may be true to a degree that wolves could be a primary tool to remove CWD elk. Of course we won’t know for some time.

    I do think that CWD would infect a large number of people at once considering the way that beef is processed nowadays. When you buy a hamburger, which I haven’t in 7 years now, you are not getting meat from just one cow. There could be many animals in that hamburger thus increasing your chances of becoming infected. Since CWD is also persistent and hard to destroy it could remain in the processing equipment for a long time and still infect people that way.

    I’m glad I’ve given up factory meat.

  5. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    It won’t be addressed until there have been what ‘they’ consider to be a significant number of fatalities. The thought being wait until the diease becomes active and then figure out a solution.

    I think the name of the book that came out some time ago, was it “Mad Cowboy”?, and the author had some scary theories about mad cow disease and what could possibly happen. The beef producers sued him.

    Most people will never comprehend anything past their own two eyes. I don’t remember who said that.

  6. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    If I remember correctly, the beef for most fast food restaurants come from South America.

  7. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Damn, Buffaloed, I didn’t consider that chronic wasting disease prions could remain in deer/elk processing equipment for a long time. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    It is my understanding that there was an uncontrolled “outbreak” of chronic wasting disease prions in a lab in Wyoming – nobody wants to talk about it, but I’m pretty sure it was at the Sybille lab. The lab was supposedly cleaned and sterilized, but, several YEARS later, chronic wasting disease prions were found on some stainless steel surfaces.

    You can bet that in the history of the world, at least one deer or elk with CWD has been processed with machinery. To contrast how deer/elk processors might handle chronic wasting disease prions with how the medical society handles prions, check

    Scroll down to: Prion Disease Management

    Another eye-opener.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  8. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I’m as pro-wolf as anyone, but I believe in keeping to the facts. There is no evidence whatsoever that wolves are killing CWD infected deer and elk in Wyoming. Indeed, CWD has only been at the edge of the Greater Yellowstone for a couple of years and has yet to be identified any further inside the ecosystem where wolves have established territories. It is definitely moving into the ecosystem, and toward Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds, but as yet, we cannot say that wolves are having any effect on the movement of the disease further north and west. Clearly, as the disease is being found further north and west each year, wolves are not in play.

    Our opponents constantly lie and misrepresent the facts and engage in wishful thinking. I think we ourselves need to be squeeky clean regarding what is fact and what is supposition, even if it’s a reasonable supposition.

  9. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    CSU study shows evidence that chronic wasting disease spreads through saliva, blood

    New Colorado State University-led research shows for the first time that chronic wasting disease may spread through saliva and blood of infected deer, which poses new possibilities that the disease may spread by blood-sucking insects or social contact between animals. The study also reinforces that no tissue from an infected animal can be considered free of prions, the disease-causing agent.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  10. sal Avatar


    Send me your e-mail address. I have some things to ask you. Mine is the same as it was before.



Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan