CWD Surveillance Zone

Kentucky's CWD Surveillance Zone:

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 youtube.com/FishandWildlifeKY.


CWD Surveillance Zone

Counties Included: Calloway, Marshall, Graves, Hickman, and Fulton Counties

 
 

What special regulations apply to the 5-county CWD surveillance zone?

  • No baiting or wildlife feeding
  • Prohibited:
    • Feeders holding or distributing foods or attractants for wildlife ingestion
    • Grain, salt or mineral shall not be used
  • Allowed:
    • Normal agricultural practices (including mineral blocks in active cattle pastures)
    • Food plots for wildlife
    • Hanging bird feeders used within the curtilage of the home (yard)
    • Scents and deer urine-based products

 
 
 
  • Carcass tags are required regardless of where it was harvested: Any deer, elk, moose or caribou carcass being moved within or through the 5-county CWD surveillance zone must have a carcass tag visible from the outside with hunter/possessor information legibly shown.
    The tag must display the following:
    • Hunter's name and phone number with area code (and the same information of the person in possession of the carcass, if different from hunter's)
    • Species and sex of animal (Example: White-tailed deer, Male)
    • Telecheck or hunter check-in confirmation number upon fulfilling the checking requirement. (Hunters must possess properly completed harvest log for any deer harvested in Kentucky but not yet telechecked.)
    • County and state of origin
    • Date of harvest (or date obtained)

    Carcass tags can be homemade, must be attached to the animal carcass, and must be large enough to be clearly legible. Hunters are reminded that whole carcasses, uncleaned skulls or spinal columns of deer, elk, moose or caribou harvested in another state cannot be brought into Kentucky from outside. View our Carcass Tag Example for a printable option.

  • Carcass transportation restrictions:

    Prohibited: Entire carcasses, uncleaned skulls, spines, or bone-in quarters of deer harvested within the 5-county surveillance zone may not be taken outside of the zone, unless in transit to a Kentucky Fish and Wildlife-authorized CWD check station.

    Allowed: De-boned meat, antlers, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides, and finished taxidermy products may be taken out of the surveillance zone. Carcasses of deer or elk harvested elsewhere in Kentucky may be transported into the surveillance zone.

Important Information for Hunters in the CWD Surveillance Zone

Can a deer be checked at any of the CWD Check Stations, or must it be in the county of harvest?

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 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Central). Additionally, CWD check stations will be open until noon (Central) on the Monday following the last day of each season requiring a mandatory check. 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?

  • Entire carcass if possible, or entire head with proof of sex
  • CWD carcass tag, written legibly and firmly secured to the animal
  • Completed 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.

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 at 8 p.m. (Central), please bring the deer to a CWD Check Station the next day. The stations open at 8 a.m.

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 the early muzzleloader, modern gun and late muzzleloader deer hunting seasons. The Deer Sample Collection Station program consists of freezer drop-off locations, where hunters may donate heads of telechecked deer harvests for CWD testing. There are locations across the state, and one in each county of the CWD Surveillance Zone. When the CWD check stations are active, hunters within the surveillance zone must take their deer to one of the locations.

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 3-4 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?

Yes. The 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. Please refer to the special regulations for the five-county CWD surveillance zone.

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 should carry on very close to normal because CWD has not been detected in Kentucky. The department asks that you make the adjustments previously outlined regarding baiting and visiting CWD check stations. Reducing any potential spread of the disease is our primary concern.

Can a hunter harvest a deer inside the CWD surveillance zone and use a processor outside the zone?

Yes, if high-risk parts are removed. That requires deboning, removing the entire hide, and skull-capping it. Please refer to the special regulations for the five-county CWD surveillance zone.

 

What is the next step if CWD is found in Kentucky?

If CWD is detected in Kentucky, the first steps of the CWD Response Plan are very similar to what is being done in response to the CWD-positive deer within eight miles of the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The d​epartment would 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.​



​​



​​​


​​​​