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Administration; Hunting; Law Enforcement; Wildlife; Wildlife Disease Management
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Nov. 3, 2023) — For the third year, Kentucky is operating a special surveillance zone for enhanced monitoring for a deadly deer disease. Hunters who harvest a deer in Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman or Marshall counties during the first three days of modern gun season, Nov. 11-13, must take the carcass to one of 13 check stations in the zone for testing.
Researchers are collecting samples to look for the presence of chronic wasting disease (CWD), an incurable disease that kills deer and elk. While two decades of testing for the disease has not confirmed its presence in Kentucky, it is slowly spreading across the United States – including six of the seven states bordering Kentucky.
Disease monitoring regulations in place this season for the CWD Surveillance Zone in western Kentucky include:
Season dates and bag limits have not changed in the five counties that comprise the surveillance zone.
Hunters in the five-county area have shown strong support for the disease monitoring efforts over the last two years. The disease has not been detected in the more than 6,800 samples collected from deer in the surveillance zone from March 1, 2021 – March 1, 2023.
Since 2002, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has CWD-tested nearly 48,000 deer and elk statewide, with samples taken from every county in the state and analyzed by accredited testing facilities.
To collect adequate samples this year, all deer harvested in Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman and Marshall counties by any method from Nov. 11 to 13, 2023 (Saturday – Monday) must be brought to a CWD Check Station. Check stations will operate from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (Central).
Landowners who harvest deer on their own property must also bring their deer to a check station during this timeframe.
There is no mandatory deer check station requirement in the surveillance zone outside of these dates, unlike previous years. However, voluntary sample collection within the zone will be available outside of the opening weekend at all check locations throughout the season for hunters wanting to have their deer tested.
In addition, any hunter statewide wanting their deer tested at no cost can also use a self-serve, voluntary
Deer Sample Collection Station found at several locations throughout the state and available to accept samples during all deer seasons. Only the deer head is needed for sampling; instructions, bags and tags are located at each collection station. An approximate harvest location will be needed for any deer heads dropped off at a Deer Sample Collection Station.
A map and list of check station locations as well as voluntary sample collection stations are available online through
fw.ky.gov/cwd and are included in the 2023-24
Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide, available online at
fw.ky.gov or wherever hunting licenses are sold.
Telechecking a deer and knowing the general location where it was harvested before arriving at a check station will help expedite processing at a check station.
Hunters may bring in an intact deer carcass, a field-dressed deer, or just the head of the deer for sampling at a check station.
Department staff at each check station in the CWD Surveillance Zone will ask for the 1-mile grid location where the deer was harvested. The location information is confidential and used by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to determine areas where additional CWD samples may be needed.
To help hunters know the grid number associated with their hunting spots, the department has created a
“Know Before You Go” interactive map, available online at
fw.ky.gov/cwd. Staff will record the grid number at the check station.
Special regulations in the five-county CWD Surveillance Zone also prohibit the use of grain or mineral blocks to bait deer. This helps prevent deer from concentrating, which increases spread of disease. Bird feeders in yards, planted food plots and normal agricultural practices, including mineral blocks or feed for cattle, are allowed. Hunters can still use scent attractors.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife no longer requires a special carcass tag for deer harvested in the CWD Surveillance Zone. However, hunters must still immediately complete their harvest log prior to moving the carcass and
telecheck their deer by midnight on the day the animal is recovered and prior to processing the carcass.
Carcasses, intact heads or other high-risk parts of deer harvested within the CWD Surveillance Zone may not be taken outside of the zone. Only de-boned meat, antlers, antlers attached to a clean skull cap, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products may be taken out of the CWD Surveillance Zone.
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