If there was ever a doubt Montana and area hunters would pass up an opportunity to extend their hunt while aiding in the fight against chronic wasting disease, it’s long since passed.

As part of a special CWD hunt, set to kick off on Friday, Montana officials released 1,200 special B hunting licenses for sale on Monday morning. Slashing any doubts as to whether or not hunters would participate, the 1,200 tags sold out within a few hours.

Time is of the Essence

With six confirmed cases in Bridger area, officials worked tirelessly to put the plan together that should see a sampling of over 400 deer to determine the prevalence of CWD in the region. Originally to contain 500 licenses for each of the two seasons – the first starting on Friday – the plan now also includes whitetail deer after a doe was found to have been exposed to the deadly disease.

All said, officials earmarked 600 mule deer tags and 600 whitetail tags in total.

Hanging on the hopes of hunter participation, Montana FWP’s Communication and Education Bureau chief Greg Lemon was pleasantly surprised with the results.

“They went fast,” Lemon told Ravalli Republic. “I was surprised.”

Officials are hope that the hunt will produce 400 samples for testing. Once the quota of 200 mule deer and 200 whitetail deer is reached, the hunt will be halted.

All successful hunters are required to submit their deer for testing at one of the pre-determined testing stations. A transport ban is in effect for the region for the entire duration of the two sessions.