Photo © USFWS

CWD Testing

How can I submit my own CWD sample for testing?

2022 Letter to Hunters

2022 CWD Collection Sites

Hunters with licenses to harvest animals in South Dakota priority surveillance areas will be mailed information on how to submit CWD samples. Hunters who harvest deer or elk outside of priority surveillance areas can still have their animal tested for CWD by following the process outlined below. As a voluntary submission, hunters will be responsible for the cost of shipping and any professional sample collection costs, unless the hunter delivers a sample toa GFP Office. South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) will pay for the testing cost of the sample at South Dakota State University Animal Disease and Research Diagnostics Lab (SDSU ADRDL). Results will be sent to both the hunter and GFP. These results will supplement GFP’s surveillance effort across the state.

Submission Steps

Option #1

  • Tagged samples or entire head can be dropped off at any of the collection stations (see below for details).  Available collection stations can be found at the bottom of under “Related Maps.”
    • If a hunter will not be doing a shoulder or European mount, the antlers can remain attached to the skull or removed using a V-cut method and placed in the collection barrel. Antlers left on the skull will not be returned.

Option #2

  • Fill out the South Dakota Chronic Wasting Disease Hunter Submission Form.
  • Collect only the retropharyngeal lymph nodes, located in the throat area, as demonstrated in the video found here . Extraction can easily be performed with a field knife, but some veterinarians will extract samples for a small fee as well.
  • Once removed, place lymph nodes in a sealed bag (Ziploc® or similar). Place sealed bag into another sealed bag, then wrap in a paper towel. Place the wrapped sample with a cold ice pack and the submission form (in separate sealed bag) into a small box and send via your choice of parcel carrier. Choose a carrier that will deliver your sample within 24-48 hours. Ship samples during the week (Mon-Thurs) and avoid shipping on weekends and holidays. Use a parcel carrier that offers tracking of your package. 
  • CWD testing kits are available for hunters at any GFP office found at
  • The package delivery address is listed below and at the bottom of the CWD Hunter Submission Form. Results are usually available within 2-3 weeks but may take longer depending on sample volume at the SDSU Diagnostic Laboratory. 

Send samples to:
South Dakota State University
Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab
Box 2175, 1155 North Campus Drive
Brookings, SD 57007

Option #3

  • Contact your local GFP office and schedule to have your sample removed and submitted for testing at no cost. 


Unit-Specific Priority Surveillance Areas

Black Hills Elk Hunting Units

  •  ALL Black Hills Elk Hunting Units-Elk samples only

West River Deer Hunting Units

  • WRD-24A, WRD-24B, WRD-30A, and WRD-30B

East River Deer Hunting Units

  •  ERD-04A, ERD-10A, ERD-13A, ERD-13L ERD-17A, ERD-33A, ERD-38A, ERD-40A, ERD-54A, and ERD-62A

Figure 1.  Known CWD positive wild cervids and 25-mile buffer around positive locations used to determine priority surveillance areas (shaded in gray).

Latest CWD testing results

In the South Dakota CWD Surveillance period of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, a total of 1,314 samples have been collected for CWD surveillance.
Breakdown of the sampling is as follows:

  • 118 elk sampled-- 108 results returned as Not Positive--(10 POSITIVE ELK FOUND)
  • 221 mule deer sampled-- 208 results returned as Not Positive--(13 POSITIVE MD FOUND)
  • 975 white-tailed deer-- 944 results returned as Not Positive--(31 POSITIVE WT FOUND)

Surveillance from hunter-harvest and testing of sick deer and elk implies CWD is relatively rare in free-roaming cervids when the number of animals present is considered.  South Dakota is reporting a total of 54 positive deer and elk (13 mule deer, 31 white-tailed deer and 10 elk) in the testing period of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022. To date, South Dakota has found 663 cases of CWD (404 deer and 259 elk) in free-ranging deer and elk since testing began in 1997. Wind Cave National Park (WICA) accounts for 181 of these animals (166 elk, 15 deer). Thirty-three elk and 12 deer have been found in Custer State Park. A total of 32,878 wild deer and elk have been tested for CWD since 1997. 

What is the difference between prevalence rate and presence?

Prevalence rate can be defined as a percentage of cervids in a population or hunting unit that are infected with chronic wasting disease.

Presence just means that CWD has been documented in a given population or hunting unit.