Stop Chronic Wasting Disease in its Tracks
New York Hunting
CWD is a threat to New York’s wild deer and moose, and captive deer, elk, and reindeer.
Like “mad cow” disease, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans, and scrapie in sheep, CWD is a disease called a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. It is caused by an infectious protein called a prion and attacks the brain and nervous system. Infected deer can look healthy for months to years before dying.
In New York, CWD was discovered in captive and wild deer in Oneida County in 2005. No new cases of CWD have been found in New York State. CWD is now found in 24 states and two Canadian provinces.
CWD is highly transmissible and always fatal. There is no cure, vaccine, or resistance to CWD. A deer can be infected from contact with other deer, deer parts including saliva and urine, or contaminated soil and plants.
CWD does not go away. CWD prions last in the environment for decades. They bind to soil and can be taken up by plants that deer eat, which then infect the animals. Once CWD is established in an area, eliminating the disease is virtually impossible.
Is Venison from a CWD-Positive Deer Safe to Eat?
The CDC recommends that no one consume CWD-positive animals. There are no known cases of human CWD, but more research is needed in this area. All tissues can have prions, including meat. Contaminated carcass and meat must be disposed of properly to ensure the landscape is not contaminated. DEC will assist with disposal. For a list of regional offices, go to:
Report Sick or Abnormal Deer to DEC
Report any deer that is emaciated (ribs and hip bones showing), aggressive, walking in circles, or is easily approached to the wildlife biologist in DEC regional office near you.
Do Not Feed Wild Deer
Feeding deer is illegal year round. Deer can become sick or die from being artificially fed because their stomach is not used to unnatural food. Concentrating deer around food sources can also spread diseases like CWD.
Hunting in New York
Take Precautions When Handling Deer
Wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing or processing deer. Remove internal organs using knives or utensils that are dedicated for hunting. If you use lead ammunition, bury the organs to make sure scavengers, like bald eagles, do not accidentally ingest lead fragments. Trim generously around the wound channel. Bag remaining carcass waste for the landfill.
Avoid Natural Deer Urine Products
Prions are shed in the bodily fluids (saliva, feces, urine) of infected deer before they appear sick. Prions bind to soil and plants where they remain infectious for years. There is no product safety testing for urine products. Choose synthetic alternatives.
Know the Regulations
Check your destination state before your hunt to find out if CWD has been found in that area. Know the regulations for that state and New York. If your harvested animal is tested in that state and found to be CWD-positive, report your test results to the DEC right away. DEC can help you with safe disposal of the animal and recommend disinfection methods.
Hunting Outside New York
Can I Import My Deer Taken in Another State?
Yes, but deer must be deboned before bringing them into New York State to remove “high-risk” parts (brain, spinal cord) that could potentially spread CWD.
Meat, hide and cape, antlers, cleaned skull cap with antlers attached, finished taxidermy mounts, tanned hides, and cleaned upper canine teeth are permitted.
If you bring a whole intact carcass from a prohibited state or Canada, you will be ticketed and your entire animal (including trophy heads) will be confiscated and destroyed.
NYSDEC’s CWD Strategy
Know the risks for CWD introduction. You don’t want to contaminate your favorite hunting spot or put the NYS deer herd at risk!
Regulations are necessary to stop high-risk activities that could introduce CWD to New York State. If CWD is brought to NYS, it will be nearly impossible to eradicate.
If CWD is detected in New York, the best opportunity to stop the disease is to catch it early. Since 2002, thousands of samples are tested annually, over 44,000 so far.