Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a naturally occurring disease in deer. A similar condition known as Scrapie in sheep, Creutzfeldt-Jacob (CJD) in humans and BSE or Mad Cow disease in cattle, and are all transmittable forms spongiform encephalopathy a degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. It basically causes cavitations in the brain and deterioration of motor skills leading to death in as little as a few months.
CWD has not been found in California, but transporting a deer spinal column, brain, tonsils, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes from a state where the disease exists could introduce it, so California has regulations against the importation of animals from out of State.
California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 712
No hunter-harvested deer or elk (cervid) carcass or parts of cervid carcass shall be imported into the State, except for the following body parts:
(a) boned-out meat and commercially processed cuts of meat.
(b) portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
(c) hides with no heads attached.
(d) clean skull plates (no meat or tissue attached) with antlers attached.
(e) antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
(f) finished taxidermy heads.
(g) upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, ivories).
CJD is found in about 1 person in a million. Although there is no known evidence of any of the forms of this disease being transmitted from one animal to another, I.E. from a diseased deer to a human, the greatest caution should be taken when processing the animal, and better still avoid taking an animals inflicted with the disease, and report it to the authorities in the state you are hunting in.
The prion agent for transmission is more readily moved around deer herds and other animals, meaning across different species, although tests conducted so far have shown that other animals that were housed in facilities with infected deer did not contract any of the symptoms. In cattle however, the development of the disease may take as long as 4 years. Needless to say there is ongoing research into the area.
California Dept. of Fish & Wildlife wants all hunters to be aware (particularly those living in California and who hunt out of State), of the symptoms and to report any animal they see demonstrating symptoms. It is imperative that if you know of anyone bringing animal parts into California from another State that you contact the DFG Cal-Tip 1-888-334-2258 hotline immediately. All hunters in bear the responsibility to stop the spread of CWD. New York instituted similar restrictions as those mentioned for California in 2012 for deer taken in Pennsylvania, and deer taken in Ohio after 2014, since they had not seen another case since the initial diagnosis in 2005.
Information on what to do to ensure you do not spread the disease, can be found here
CWD was first found or identified in deer in Wisconsin in 2002, and has been found in the following states and Canadian provinces:
Alberta: Alberta detected in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 119, 150, 151, 152, 163, 200, 202, 232, 234, 236, 256, and 728.
Colorado, CWD was first identified as a clinical disease in captive mule deer at the Colorado Division of Wildlife Foothills Wildlife Research Facility in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1967. In 1981 the Colorado Division of Wildlife identified CWD in a wild elk, marking the first documented case of CWD in a wild cervid. 1985, The Colorado Division of Wildlife confirmed the presence of CWD in a wild mule deer for the first time.CWD is found in free-ranging deer and elk herds in northeastern Colorado and in free-ranging mule deer in a portion of Routt County in the northwest part of the state.), GMU’s 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 36, 37, 38, 51, 59, 84, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 102, 109, 161, 171, 181, 191, 211, 214, 231, 301, 391, 421, 441, 461, 521, 591, 951.
Illinois: Counties of Boone, Dekalb, LaSalle, McHenry, Ogle and Winnebago
Iowa: Allamakee County
Kansas: Counties of Cheyenne, Decatur, Graham, Ford, Logan, Norton, Rawlins, Sheridan, Stafford, Sumner, Trego, Thomas and Wallace.
Maryland: Allegany County
Michigan: Meridian Township in Ingham County
Minnesota: Olmsted County
Ohio (2014), The first positive test ever for CWD in Ohio was from a deer killed Oct. 22 at Yoder’s hunting preserve, World Class Whitetails. The second positive result came a few days ago while testing another Yoder deer that had died. Yoder’s two breeding farms and hunting preserve were quarantined a year ago after it was discovered an infected Pennsylvania deer had been shipped there. Ohio Administrative Code 1501:31-19-02 makes it illegal for individuals to bring into Ohio deer, elk, and moose carcasses from certain portions of other states or provinces where chronic wasting disease has been identified unless all the soft tissue, lymph nodes and spinal column have been removed. Kentucky has insituted a ban on whole deer that have been harvested in Ohio, being brought back to Kentucky.
Nebraska, (The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission begin surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the fall of 1997. Since that time, over 2,900 wild deer and 150 wild elk have been tested for CWD. Three positive free ranging mule deer have been diagnosed in Kimball County, 1 positive mule deer in Cheyenne County, 1 positive white-tail deer in Scotts Bluff County and 9 positive white-tail and 1 positive mule deer from Sioux County.) There have been three captive facilities with positive CWD results since 1997. The first case was on an elk ranch in Cherry County, the second was an elk facility in Cheyenne County, and the third facility is in northern Sioux County. All facilities were depopulated by 2002. Also identified in herds in the following areas: Deer Management Units Upper Platte, Plains, Pine Ridge, Sandhills and Buffalo within the counties of Arthur, Banner, Box Butte, Cherry, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Hall, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan and Sioux.
New Mexico: GMU’s 19 and 34
New York (2005) Oneida County, Pennsylvania (2012), Blair and Bedford counties, both previously mentioned with links to their status.
North Dakota: Sioux County
Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan initiated a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance program of wild deer and elk in 1997, following the discovery of an infected game farmed elk in the province. Between 1997 and 1999, obexes from 283 deer and 46 elk were examined histologically for CWD using immunohistochemistry and all were negative. From the 2000 hunter harvest, one 3 year old, male, mule deer from wildlife management zone (WMZ) 46 in the targeted surveillance area tested positive for CWD. 2001, one 4-year-old male mule deer harvested less than 4 miles from the first CWD case tested positive. In spring 2002, 185 deer were from the High Risk Area in W1VIZ 46 and an additional positive case was detected less than 4 miles from the second case. Wildlife Management Zones 10, 11, 13, 14, 29E, 46, 47, 50.
South Dakota: CWD was first detected in farmed animals in the US in 1997 in an elk herd in South Dakota. Since then the disease has been identified in 23 additional farmed elk herds in a total of six States (CO, KS, MT, NE, OK, SD). These herds were discovered through routine surveillance, tracing and depopulation efforts. Since 1998, twenty of these herds have been removed. In 2001 animals tested consisted of 166 elk, 95 mule deer and 241 white-tailed deer. A single white-tailed deer from that investigation, which was taken in Fall River County of extreme southwestern South Dakota, tested positive for CWD. Counties of Fall River, Lawrence, Custer, Pennington, and Wind Cave National Park.
Texas: Hueco Mountains of northern El Paso and Hudspeth counties
Utah: Wildlife Management Units 9, 13, 14 and 16
Virginia: Frederick County.
West Virginia: Hampshire County.
Wisconsin (2001), Identification of CWD in 3 free-ranging Wisconsin deer was the first detection of this disease east of the Mississippi River. CWD-positive animals have been identified in several Wisconsin counties and numerous deer management units (DMU).
Wyoming (Since 1997, the prevalence of CWD in the core endemic area was 12% in mule deer, 16% in white-tailed deer, and less than 3% in elk. CWD appears to be expanding its range within Wyoming.) Hunt Areas 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 22, 30, 33, 34, 37, 41, 55, 57, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 70, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 88, 89,120, 125, 127, 158, 167.
Since more states are adding bans on movement of whole carcasses it is prudent to assume that it is the responsible thing to do by either having a local butcher & taxidermist (to the area the animal is harvested) process the animal, or bone it out and remove all the possible contaminated parts, following the guidelines in the following information. A paper from the US DEpt. of Agriculture, with guidelines for the surveillance, sampling, documentation, diagnostics, certification, means of disposal of infected animals, etc., can be found here.