Chronic Wasting Disease

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What Is CWD?

  • Belongs to a family of neurological diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies which include scrapie in sheep, mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans. There is no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans; however the CDC advises against consuming any animal that appears ill.
  • All members of the Cervid family (white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, reindeer) are known to be susceptible.
  • Caused by a misfolded protein called a prion which could be found in all deer bodily fluids.
  • There is no cure. CWD is always fatal and there is no live test for deer.

Where Is CWD Found?

  • First discovered in captive mule deer in Colorado, in 1967.
  • Now in captive or wild deer in 26 states and Canadian provinces.
  • Detected in wild deer in: New York State and West Virginia (2005), Virginia (2010), Maryland (2011), Michigan (2015), in Pennsylvania both in captive deer (2012) and in wild deer (2013) plus in captive deer in Texas (2015), and free-ranging deer and elk in Arkansas (2015) and in free-ranging reindeer in Norway (2016).

How New Jersey Is Responding

  • Tested for CWD in symptomatic captive cervids and wild deer, and hunter-harvested wild deer since 1997. To date over 6,700 wild deer have been tested with no CWD-positive results.
  • Banned the importation of cervids, recently expanded to include reindeer.
  • Issued an advisory for New Jersey hunters bringing home venison from CWD-endemic states making it illegal to import into New Jersey a harvested deer carcass or deer parts from any state with CWD in wild deer unless strictly following that state’s CWD protocol.
  • Improved captive cervid regulations, including a proposed Herd Certification Program.
  • Created the CWD Response Plan with protocols for detection of CWD to be activated when CWD is within 20 miles of the New Jersey border and within the state wild deer and captive cervids.

Urine-Based Deer Lures Advisory

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife recommends the use of synthetic, non-urine-based scents or lures for deer hunting. The infectious prions which cause Chronic Wasting Disease can be spread through urine-based lures. Studies have shown the prions can survive for years in contaminated soils and the environment. Urine-based scents and lures are not treated to kill the prions as heat or chemical treatments would also reduce the desired scent characteristics.Hunters using urine-based scents should place them in areas out of contact with deer, the ground or vegetation.