Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Frequently Asked Questions

What is Kentucky doing about CWD?

There are laws in place restricting the importation of both live and harvested cervids (including, but not limited to deer, elk, reindeer, and moose). Importation into Kentucky of live cervids is prohibited by statute, except in specific circumstances (KRS 150.725, 150.730, 150.735, and 150.740), and is a Class D felony. Whole carcasses of deer or elk harvested in CWD-positive states may not come into (or pass through) Kentucky. The brain and spinal column must be removed before the harvested animal may cross the border. Also, Kentucky has a statewide surveillance program, which includes two types of surveillance approaches: a) active surveillance of hunter-harvested deer and elk and b) targeted surveillance of road-killed deer and elk or any deer or elk displaying symptoms of the disease. Since 2002, KDFWR has tested over 22,200 deer and elk for CWD; all results have been negative. Additionally, all captive cervid facilities must be enrolled in the CWD-monitoring program through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.

Where is CWD found?

Chronic wasting disease has not been detected in Kentucky. The US Geological Survey maintains an up-to-date map of the areas where CWD has been detected, which can be found here: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/chronic_wasting_disease/index.jsp.

Will KDFWR pay for my deer to be tested?

Our sampling methods ensure that an adequate number of animals are tested from all over the state each year, eliminating the need for individual hunters to have their deer tested. At this point, testing by individual hunters is premature and unnecessary. Only a limited number of laboratories in the country can test for CWD, and they are increasingly busy as more states expand their CWD surveillance. However, you may donate your deer or elk head to our surveillance efforts by contacting your local private lands biologist. For more information, please call 800-858-1549.

Is it safe to hunt deer in Kentucky?

Absolutely. Hunting deer in Kentucky remains a safe activity. However, certain precautions should always be taken when handling any animal carcass, such as wearing latex gloves and not using household utensils to field dress animals. If you see an animal that appears sick or is acting strange, note the animal's location and contact KDFWR immediately.

Can I bring meat and antlers from another state into Kentucky?

Yes you can; however, if you are hunting in a state or province where CWD has been found (which includes four of our bordering states: Illinois, Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia), you cannot bring back into Kentucky any part of the brain or spinal column. This includes transporting carcasses through Kentucky. (Example: If you live in Tennessee and hunt in Illinois, you cannot transport the entire carcass through Kentucky to get home, which means the brain the spinal column from a deer in Illinois cannot enter the state of Kentucky). The info below lists what can and cannot be brought into Kentucky from a CWD-positive state.

Allowed and Prohibited Cervid Parts from a CWD-infected State or Province:

ALLOWED:

  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of spinal column or head attached
  • Boned out meat
  • Antlers
  • Antlers attached to a clean skull plate
  • Clean skull
  • Clean upper canine teeth
  • Hides with no head attached
  • Finished taxidermy mounts

PROHIBITED:

  • Brain
  • Spinal Column

Additionally, we encourage hunters to follow a few common sense guidelines wherever they hunt:

  1. Know the CWD status of the state in which you are hunting. If the state you will be hunting in has CWD, contact the fish and wildlife agency for that state to find out if they have any restrictions on the export of harvested animal meat or parts.
  2. Do not harvest any animal that appears sick or is acting strange. Note the animal's location and contact the local fish and wildlife department as soon as possible.
  3. Do not use household utensils to field dress or process your deer.
  4. Prions are concentrated in the brain, spinal cord, lymph glands, tonsils, eyes and spleen. It is not recommended to consume those parts of the animal. Wear latex or rubber gloves. Bone all meat. Don't saw through bone. Removal of fatty tissue will remove all lymph glands.
  5. The causative agent of CWD is very resistant to disinfection. The best recommendation at this time is to disinfect butchering equipment with strong chlorine bleach for at least 15 minutes.
  6. If you use a saw to remove antlers or skull plate, it should be cleaned and disinfected afterwards. This saw should not be used on any other part of the carcass. If you keep the entire skull for a European mount, you should insure all meat is removed, wearing disposable rubber or latex gloves in the process. Soak all bones in strong chlorine bleach.

What should I do if I see a deer or elk that appears to be sick?

If you see a deer or elk that appears to be sick or displaying abnormal behavior, do not attempt to contact, disturb, kill, or remove the animal. Contact the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources immediately. Be sure to give an accurate description of the animal's location, symptoms, and behavior.

Copies of KDFWR's CWD response plan may be obtained by sending a written request to:

Dr. Tina Brunjes, KDFWR, #1 Sportsman's Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601.