Conservation

Photo © USFWS

How Does CWD Impact Me?

As a hunter, what do I need to be the most concerned about?

In the absence of complete information on risk, and in light of similarities of animal and human TSEs, public health officials and wildlife management professionals recommend that hunters harvesting deer and elk in the endemic area, as well as meat processors and taxidermists handling cervid carcasses, should take some common sense measures to avoid exposure to the CWD agent and to other known zoonotic pathogens.

CWD poses serious problems for wildlife managers, and the implications for free-ranging deer and elk are significant.

Can I tell if an animal has CWD based on physical appearance or behavior?

An animal does not necessarily have to display clinical signs or look unhealthy for it to test positive for CWD.  In fact, it is possible to harvest a healthy-looking animal that has CWD.  If you harvest a deer or elk in one of the identified CWD areas on the map or anywhere in the state and have concerns, you have the ability to submit your own sample for testing using the form and instructions on this page.

As a non-hunter, how does this impact me?

Impacts of CWD on population dynamics of deer and elk are presently unknown. Computer modeling suggests that CWD could substantially reduce infected cervid populations by lowering adult survival rates and destabilizing long-term population dynamics. This would potentially reduce the ability to view deer and elk by non-hunters.

Feeding wildlife for viewing purposes is a popular pastime for hunters and non-hunters alike. The concentration of wildlife at feeding and baiting stations increases the likelihood of disease transfer amongst wildlife visiting these locations. Feeding of certain wildlife may have to be stopped through specific laws in order to help protect wildlife species.

As a taxidermist, what do I need to be the most concerned about?

In the absence of complete information on risk, and in light of similarities of animal and human TSEs, public health officials and wildlife management professionals recommend that hunters harvesting deer and elk in the endemic area, as well as meat processors and taxidermists handling cervid carcasses, should take some common sense measures to avoid exposure to the CWD agent and to other known zoonotic pathogens.

These common sense or simple precautions, can be found here.

As a landowner or producer, do I need to be concerned that this will transmit to my livestock herds (or domestic pets)?

Cattle and other domestic livestock appear to be resistant to natural infection. There are no reported cases of natural transmission of CWD from infected elk or deer to domestic livestock. However, the disease has been experimentally reproduced in cattle by the direct injection of the infectious agent into their brains. Several investigations are currently underway to further study this question.