Photo © USFWS

CWD Testing

How can I submit my own CWD sample for testing?

Letter to Hunters

2019 CWD Surveillance Collection Stations

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

  • Samples (entire head) can be dropped off at any of the collection stations on this map.
    • 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.

Option #2

  • Fill out the South Dakota Chronic Wasting Disease Hunter Submission Form. Record the location of harvest as accurately as possible.
  • Collect only the retropharyngeal lymph nodes, located in the throat area, as demonstrated in videos below. Extraction can easily be performed with a field knife, but some veterinarians will extract samples for a small fee as well.
  • Informational videos showing how to extract samples can be found here and also here.
  • Once removed, place lymph nodes in a sealed bag (Ziplock 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 postal 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 carrier that offers tracking of your package.
  • CWD testing kits are available for hunters at any GFP regional or district office.
  • Package delivery address is listed below, and at the bottom of the Chronic Wasting Disease Hunter Submission Form. Results are usually available 7-10 days.

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 regional or district office and make arrangements to have your sample removed and submitted for testing.

Latest CWD testing results

In the South Dakota CWD Surveillance period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019, a total of 831 samples have been collected for CWD surveillance.

Breakdown of the sampling is as follows:

  • 231 elk sampled-- 215 results returned as Not Positive--(16 POSITIVE ELK FOUND)
  • 75 mule deer sampled-- 64 results returned as Not Positive--(11 POSITIVE MD FOUND)
  • 525 white-tailed deer-- 503 results returned as Not Positive--(22 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 49 positive deer and elk (11 mule deer, 22 white-tailed deer and 16 elk) in the testing period of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. To date, South Dakota has found 450 cases of CWD (237 deer and 213 elk) in free-ranging deer and elk since testing began in 1997. Wind Cave National Park (WICA) accounts for 151 of these animals (140 elk, 11 deer). Twenty-nine elk and 7 deer have been found in Custer State Park. A total of 27,897 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.