Wildlife Health and Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease Updates

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is taking action to protect and monitor the state's deer and elk herds after a deer in northwest Tennessee recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The always-fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, moose and caribou has not been detected in Kentucky. However, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's response plan calls for implementation of specific measures following a positive detection within 30 miles of Kentucky's border. This is because deer are highly mobile, and can range up to several miles in a single day.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife activated its response plan Wednesday, Sept. 8 after the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced confirmation of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a 3 ½-year-old female deer collected in Henry County, Tennessee, which is southwest of Murray, Kentucky and approximately 8 miles from the Kentucky-Tennessee border. The deer was thin and exhibiting strange behavior. Multiple tests confirmed the presence of CWD in the deer.

For the latest information on this disease, please continue to follow our CWD Updates and follow the department’s social media channels.

More on CWD

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resource’s Wildlife Health Program is a new branch of the department. It includes the state wildlife veterinarian and support staff in our new Wildlife Health Annex, a laboratory and diagnostic center for diseases and other health issues that affect Kentucky’s fish and wildlife.

Although the formal development of the Wildlife Health Program is new, Kentucky has been managing wildlife health and disease issues for a long time.  KDFWR is a member of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study and has been performing surveillance for chronic wasting disease in deer and elk since 2002. With the expansion of our department, we hope to better protect Kentucky’s resources by analyzing the health of our populations of fish and wildlife species. The Wildlife Health Program supports other programs within KDFWR and works with other state agencies such as the Departments of Agriculture and Public Health.

Maintaining a healthy population of wildlife is important for many reasons. Emerging infections in wildlife have led to declines in species and species diversity around the globe. Some types of wildlife pathogens can also affect people or livestock and therefore have important human health, welfare, and economic implications.

Managing for healthy wildlife populations involves: 1) preventing the introduction of new wildlife diseases; 2) controlling existing diseases; and 3) eradication of disease from a wildlife population in the state.