An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has created a Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Surveillance Zone in Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, and Marshall counties. This zone includes mandatory check stations for deer harvested during designated dates during modern gun season for deer.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife first created a Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance zone in western Kentucky in 2021.
Read below for more information on the Tennessee deer found with CWD nearby in 2021, and the steps taken to activate Kentucky's CWD Response Plan.
What special regulations apply to the 5-county CWD surveillance zone?
All deer harvested within the CWD Surveillance Zone (Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman and Marshall counties) by any method during the
dates listed above must be brought to a CWD Check Station for sampling.
Grain, feed, mineral blocks, salt blocks and other baits used to attract deer cannot be used in CWD Surveillance Zone. This helps prevent deer from concentrating, which increases spread of disease. Bird feeders in yards, planted food plots and normal agricultural practices such as mineral blocks or feed for cattle are allowed. Hunters can use products that are not ingested by deer, such as scent attractors and deer urine products.
Whole carcasses or high-risk parts (head, skull cap or skull with any brain material, or spine) of any deer, elk, moose or caribou harvested in another state cannot be brought back into Kentucky.
Carcasses or high-risk parts of deer harvested within the 5-county 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.
Hunter's participation is vital to disease monitoring efforts. To obtain an adequate sample size for scientific testing, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife operates 13 mandatory CWD Check Stations within the CWD Surveillance Zone for deer harvested during modern gun season weekends, when most deer are harvested and adequate sampling can be ensured.
All deer harvested within the CWD Surveillance Zone (Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman and Marshall counties) by any method during 2023 modern gun season weekends must be brought to a CWD Check Station for tissue sampling.
Check stations will only operate on November 11-13, 2023. There is no mandatory deer check station requirement outside of these dates. However, free voluntary testing is available through
Deer Sample Collection Stations.
The mandatory check station requirement includes license-exempt hunters, such as youths under 12 and landowners hunting on their own property, and those who take deer during these dates by other methods, such as muzzleloader or archery equipment. Deer given to others by a hunter during these dates must be physically checked as well. All deer should be telechecked before coming to the check station.
Check stations will operate from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Central) on the dates listed above. 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. Biologists will take tissue samples at the check stations to monitor for the presence of CWD. Hunters will be asked for an approximate location where they harvested the deer, the name of the taxidermist or processor, if being used, and provide telecheck and licensing information.
Tissue sampling will not harm heads or capes/hides intended for taxidermy mounts—please advise staff at the check station if you intend to have your deer head mounted.
Hunters will receive a card verifying their visit to the check station. Cards will contain information about how to view test results for their deer. Test results are generally available within six weeks or less.
Before you hit the woods, check this map to determine the location of your potential harvest. This location number will be used when you visit a check station or a deer sample collection station.
On Sept. 8, 2021, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources activated its
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response Plan, after the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) confirmed CWD in a 3 ½-year-old female deer collected in Henry County, Tennessee. The site is 7.8 miles south of the Tennessee state line, and lies southwest of Murray, Kentucky.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife is increasing CWD surveillance and taking further steps to protect deer in Calloway, Fulton, Graves, Hickman and Marshall counties. Recorded meetings of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission provide comprehensive details of the CWD Response Plan and the department's response.
These are available in the "Commission Meetings" playlist on the department's YouTube channel at
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will review the CWD surveillance zone after the conclusion of deer season in response to the first in-state CWD detection.
A deer harvested within the CWD surveillance zone may be checked at any of the CWD check stations.
When will the CWD Check Stations be staffed?
CWD check stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Central)Hunters will receive a card at each CWD check station verifying their visit to the check station. Cards will contain information about how to view test results for their deer.
What do hunters need to bring to CWD Check Stations?
An intact or gutted carcass, or the entire head with the proof of sexCompleted harvest log.
How should hunters provide a carcass head, if choosing to do so?
If a hunter would like to provide only the head as a sample, the department asks that you sever the head with several inches of the neck included. This ensures that the lymph nodes needed to test for CWD are included.
Do hunters need to share the exact location where their deer was taken in the surveillance zone?
No, just the proximity. Hunters are welcome to share the exact location, but that information is not required. This information is only used to identify areas of adequate or insufficient surveillance of CWD.
What do you do if you harvest a deer after shooting light?
If you are unable to reach a CWD check station prior to it closing, please bring the deer to a CWD Check Station the next day. If CWD check stations are closed the next day, please bring the deer head to a
Deer Sample Collection Station.
Will hunters in the surveillance zone be able to get trophy deer processed after taking it to a CWD Check Station?
Yes. Department staff will work with hunters to ensure your deer can still be processed by a taxidermist.
If a hunter takes a deer in the CWD surveillance zone during a season in which CWD Check Stations are not open, how can they have it tested?
There are additional
Deer Sample Collection Stations in each of the five counties within the CWD surveillance zone. There, hunters can submit the head of their deer to be tested for CWD.
What is the difference between a mandatory CWD check station and a
Deer Sample Collection Station?
• Physical check-ins at a CWD Check Station are required for any deer harvested within the surveillance zone during these dates in 2022: Nov. 12-14, Nov. 19-21, and Nov. 26-27. Stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m (Central) during these dates. . When the CWD check stations are active, hunters within the surveillance zone must take their deer to one of the locations. The
Deer Sample Collection Station program consists of freezer drop-off locations, where hunters may submit heads of telechecked deer harvests for CWD testing outside of mandatory testing locations or dates. There are locations across the state and at least one in each county of the CWD Surveillance Zone.
Why are the CWD Check Stations and
Deer Sample Collection Stations (freezer drop-off locations) important?
Early detection can help prevent CWD from spreading. In order to detect the disease as early as possible, the department needs many samples from the area. The more samples received, the more reliable the testing results are.
How long will it take to get test results back?
Hunters should expect results to be online within 4-6 weeks. If any sample results are positive, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife will contact the hunter as soon as possible.
Look up the CWD test results here.
Why stop baiting and feeding in the 5-county CWD surveillance zone?
Concentrating deer at particular sites can speed up the spread and intensity of disease. Deer cannot be vaccinated against CWD, so adding a vaccine to bait is not an option or solution.
Infected deer can spread the prions that cause CWD throughout the landscape. CWD prions trigger abnormal reactions in brain cells of deer, elk and other cervids.
Prions are highly resistant to destruction and normal means of disinfection do not work. They can survive on the landscape for years, therefore it is important not to congregate animals and increase the concentration of prions because the risk of transmission to other animals increases.
The best way to stop the spread of prions is keeping infected deer contained and minimizing concentration of animals.
Prohibited baiting includes putting out grains, minerals and salt. Scents and deer urine-based products used in hunting are still allowed.
Did other states that have detected CWD in the last 20 years ban baiting?
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) lists bans on baiting and feeding as a, “best management practice." Congregating animals raises the chance of the disease spreading. Studies on mineral licks in Minnesota demonstrated that prions were present and acting as a source of infection in these locations. Anything that increases the concentration of prions can increase the spread. The department wants to have hunting for future generations and “chronic" diseases like CWD are a long-term concern. It takes a long time for the disease to become noticeable, so the department is trying to preserve and conserve the resource before it gets to that point. Deer are social and congregate; they interact and communicate with each other – so for the department, it's all about diluting those opportunities. The department can't control how often deer groom each other or where they travel, but it can control how much we encourage deer to congregate in one spot. Deer behavior and biology won't change, but doing what we can to restrict congregation is the goal. At a corn pile, hundreds of deer can come to that one spot. In nature, you don't see that kind of behavior or congregation of deer happening in any other situation.
Should bait or any ingestible attractant for deer that was already in place in the surveillance zone before the ban be removed?
Yes, all bait must be removed from the landscape.
Can I feed deer for non-hunting purposes?
No. Homeowners may have birdfeeders that hang above ground, kept within the curtilage of their homes. Please refer to the special regulations for the five-county CWD surveillance zone.
What are the possible penalties for violating special deer regulations in the CWD Surveillance Zone?
Violations of special regulations will be taken very seriously, and penalties could range anywhere from a warning to losing hunting or firearm rights, or ultimately jail time.
Is there a way to report suspected violations anonymously?
Anyone can use the KFWLaw app or text the keyword “KFWLAW" along with their message or tip to 847411 (tip411). Tips can also be reported by calling 1-800-25-ALERT (1-800-252-5378).
What deer hunting zone is the CWD Surveillance Zone located within?
Currently, all counties in the CWD surveillance zone are Zone 1.
Should I continue to hunt?
Hunters are encouraged to continue hunting with a few modifications if harvesting animals in a surveillance zone or counties with known CWD detections. These modifications include following CWD regulations aimed to reduce transmission and spread of the disease. The department asks that you make the adjustments previously outlined regarding baiting and visiting CWD check stations when mandatory check is required. Reducing any potential spread of the disease is our primary concern and hunters should follow routine health and safety precautions, including not moving carcasses out of CWD infected counties or the surveillance zone, not harvesting or consuming any game animal obviously found sick or dead. The CDC recommends not eating meat from an animal that tests positive for CWD.
CWD was found in Kentucky. Now what?
The first steps of the CWD Response Plan for a positive case are very similar to what is being done in response to the CWD-positive deer within eight miles of the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The department will cast a broad net of surveillance to obtain many samples in the area surrounding the positive detection. That would allow biologists to understand the prevalence and spread of the disease. Once the department received specifics on a positive CWD test in Kentucky, it could further apply the response plan.