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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

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A threat to Vermont’s Deer Herd

Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is a serious threat to Vermont’s deer and moose populations. It is fatal to deer and is impossible to eliminate once it has been established in a population. While CWD is not known to be transmissible to humans, it has been devastating to free-ranging deer in many states and Canadian provinces.

Prevention of CWD is key. If CWD is ever discovered in a new area such as Vermont, wildlife officials must work immediately to stop it from spreading further. You can help by learning the signs of CWD and reporting sick deer to your local game warden or by calling Vermont Fish & Wildlife at 802-828-1000. Deer infected with CWD are usually weak and skinny. Other symptoms include excessive drinking and urination, drooling, listlessness, drooping ears and lowered head.

CWD is frequently spread from captive deer. The state of Vermont prohibits captive deer or moose from entering the state. This disease continues to spread over long distances by the movement of captive deer and elk involved in the captive deer and elk industry. There is no reliable live-test for CWD, and infected animals can appear healthy for years.

Vermont prohibits the rehabilitation of deer or moose to prevent CWD from spreading. Deer fawns are frequently mistaken as being ‘abandoned’ because the mother leaves them alone for most of the day to avoid attracting the attention of predators. Rehabilitation of fawns brought into captivity often results in them not surviving in the wild. If you see a fawn on its own, please leave it alone. Wild animals need to stay wild.

It is illegal to feed or bait deer in Vermont. Deer that are fed gather in large numbers and can quickly spread CWD and other diseases.

Restrictions apply for the importation of deer or moose carcasses or parts from states or provinces that have, or have had, CWD. To date, the disease has been documented in more than 20 states and two Canadian provinces including New York State. New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts have not documented CWD. See Importing under the Big Game section for details.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has been testing Vermont deer for CWD since 2002. Results indicate that Vermont is currently free of CWD.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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