Discovery of chronic wasting disease in Montana deer last fall caused an immediate response from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) and has led to possible changes in the disease management plan. The Fish and Wildlife Commission will discuss the plan at next week's April 19 meeting at the FWP Headquarters in Helena.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurologic disease, much like mad cow disease, that affects deer, elk, moose and caribou. It has cropped up in neighboring states, but until last year, not in Montana. The first confirmed cases - six deer - were south of Billings and a radio-collared deer was infected in north central Montana, near Chester. Following special hunts in both areas, four more infected animals were found, all south of Laurel.

Earlier versions of the CWD response plan established a response threshold at 5 percent of the animal population. That threshold will be scrapped in the newest version, which would require "long-term CWD management actions" with any detection at any level.

The commission will also be tackling a host of other issues at their April meeting. They include over 30 other agenda items, including migratory bird regulations, various leases, land exchanges, river safety issues, and the budget for Fiscal Year 2020-21. For more information, check the FWP website.