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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is Knocking on Nevada's Door

What is CWD?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurologic disease called a “transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)” that is found in the deer family. In Nevada, this includes mule deer, elk, and moose. Other TSEs include scrapie (found in domestic sheep), “Mad Cow” disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (in humans.). It is caused by a misfolded protein, called a prion, that causes misfolding of brain proteins. This leads to neurologic symptoms and the ultimate death of the animal. Clinical signs of CWD include stumbling, poor body condition, excessive drinking and salivation and difficulty running. There are no treatments or vaccines available to treat the disease.

Does Nevada have CWD?

CWD is found in 34 states, 4 Canadian Provinces, Norway, and South Korea. As of this writing, CWD has not been found in Nevada. However, on May 6th, 2024, CWD was confirmed in a road killed deer near Bishop, California. This is the first time that CWD has been confirmed this close to Nevada. With deer movement occurring between the two states, there is a very high possibility that CWD has already found its way into Nevada. This detection is hundreds of miles away from the nearest known CWD infected herd. Therefore, it was most likely moved by people, either through movement and dumping of carcass parts or through movement of live cervids. CWD has now been detected in 3 of the 5 states that border Nevada (please see USGS map). This demonstrates the importance of following transport regulations and not bringing in infected parts.

How can CWD be managed?

CWD has been linked to mule deer population declines in several western states. In addition, since CWD is a fatal disease and has a high prevalence in older bucks, it may reduce the number of mature bucks and lead to a younger age class structure. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has set a prevalence goal of 5% or less for infected units. Research has demonstrated that lower prevalence in mule deer is highly correlated with higher buck harvest and number of hunters afield. While Nevada may seem to have a low density of deer that may limit transmission, in some areas we have high concentrations of deer on winter range. Contact between males on winter range is the main driver of CWD prevalence. There is currently no evidence to indicate that CWD can be transmitted to livestock or humans. However, the CDC recommends that hunters from endemic states test their harvest and not consume it if positive.

What is NDOW doing to respond to the new detection?

In response to the new detection of CWD in California a Transportation Restriction Zone (TRZ) was created by the Nevada Department of Agriculture through Quarantine Order (Q-JG05232024) to improve surveillance and prevent movement of CWD. The TRZ and following requirements are being implemented to help keep the disease from spreading into Nevada.

If you harvest a mule deer in the TRZ (see map left) you MUST:

  1. Submit a MANDATORY CWD sample.
    • It is now mandatory that anyone who harvests a deer in the TRZ (consisting of Hunt Units 192-196, 201-208, 211-213, and 291) submits a CWD sample. Within the TRZ, the animal can be brought to the Reno (Valley Road) or Tonopah NDOW Offices, or a Check Station within the TRZ. If self-sampling the sample can be dropped off at any NDOW office.
    • One lucky person who submits a CWD sample will win a cooler filled with prizes courtesy of Nevada Muley’s.
    • For an up-to-date schedule of check stations and sampling locations, please view this link:
    • To take your own sample please sign up to receive a kit by scanning the QR code to the right.
    • The sample must be received by NDOW within 1 week of harvest.
    • For up-to-date information on how to get your deer sampled 7 days a week, please scan this QR code, visit the link above OR call the Nevada CWD Hotline at (800) 800-1667.
  2. Abide by the transport restriction requirements below.

If you harvest any deer within the TRZ or ANY deer, elk, moose, or reindeer/caribou outside of Nevada:

  • It is illegal for you, your agent, or employee to knowingly transport or possess the carcass or any part of the carcass of these big game species (above) that were obtained in another state, territory, or country, or in the Nevada TRZ, HOWEVER:
  • It is legal for you, your agent, or employee to bring into Nevada or move outside the TRZ the following parts of the carcass of any of the animals listed above:
    • Wrapped meat or quarters, with no part of the spinal column, brain tissue, or head attached.
    • The hide or cape with no part of the spinal column, brain tissue, or head attached.
    • The clean skull plate with antlers attached and no brain tissue attached.
    • The antlers with no meat or tissue other than antler velvet attached.
    • The taxidermy mount with no meat or tissue other than antler velvet (if applicable) attached.
    • The upper canine teeth including, without limitation, the bugler, whistler, and ivory teeth.
    • A sample collected for CWD surveillance (separately bagged and including only the obex and lymph nodes) that can be dropped off at any NDOW office.

Disposal Requirements

Within the TRZ, the spinal column, brain tissue or head attached must be disposed of in the following manner:

  • Left at the site of harvest (preferred method).
  • Disposed of in approved and certified landfill within the TRZ (see list here:
  • Surrendered to the NDOW office in Reno or Tonopah or check station within the TRZ for disposal.
  • Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should prohibited parts be moved out of the TRZ or disposed of on the landscape (other than the location of kill).

If you are unsure how to abide by these restrictions if you are bringing your animal to a taxidermist, the QR codes below have helpful videos on preparing your harvest for transport:

If I don’t have a tag in the TRZ, what can I do to help?

We need the public’s help to keep Nevada CWD free. You can help by abiding to the transport regulations above, assisting in surveillance activities, and spreading the word! Everyone hunting out of state must abide by the transport restrictions listed above.

In addition, when hunting anywhere in Nevada we ask that you test your elk, deer, or moose for CWD. Rapid detection allows us to respond quickly. While we won’t be able to eradicate it, if we catch it early, we can reduce the impacts it has and the spread.

One lucky person who submits a CWD sample will win a cooler filled with swag, courtesy of Nevada Muley’s. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Sign up to receive a self-sampling kit (QR code above).
  • You can stop by one of our many office locations (call ahead first to make sure a biologist is present).
  • You can stop by one of our check stations (an updated schedule can be found here:
  • If you are in Las Vegas, you can drop off samples at Mull’s Meats (3730 Thom Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89130) during normal business hours.


Haga su parte para ayudar mantener el estado de Nevada libre de la enfermedad de desgaste crónico. Es ilegal (2019 SB85) traer un cadáver de caza a Nevada desde otro estado al menos que haya sido limpiado y esté completamente libre de la columna vertebral y de tejido cerebral. Es aceptable el transporte de carne, cuartos con huesos de piernas, astas y cuernos con casquetes, capas y pieles, monturas de taxidermia, y dientes. Los cráneos intactos solo se permiten si han sido hervidos, despojados de escarabajos o completamente limpios de tejido cerebral.