Chronic Wasting Disease

Hunting Regulations Icon New York Hunting

What You Need To Know

CWD is a serious threat to New York’s wild deer and moose and captive deer, elk, and reindeer.

What is CWD?

A contagious, fatal disease of cervids (deer, elk, moose, and reindeer/caribou) that is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. It causes holes to form in the brain. Animals become diseased from direct contact with live infected animals, animal parts, or contaminated soil and plants. Animals shed prions in urine, feces, and saliva before they die. An infected deer can look healthy for months to years before dying.

Where is CWD?

The disease has been found in 26 states and four Canadian provinces. New York discovered CWD in Oneida County in 2005 in captive and wild deer, but no new cases have been found in the state since then despite intensive surveillance.

Why is CWD a Problem?

There is no cure, vaccine, or genetic resistance to CWD. Prions can last in the environment for decades. Once CWD is established in an area, eliminating the disease is virtually impossible. Although there are no known human cases, the Centers for Disease Control recommends no one consume a CWD-positive animal.

How Can I Help?

Don’t let CWD into the state again! Know your regulations:


Here Are Some Things You Can Do:

Debone your harvest if you hunt outside of New York – Meat, hide and cape, antlers, cleaned skull cap with antlers attached, finished taxidermy mounts, tanned hides, and cleaned upper canine teeth are permitted. Hunters who improperly import whole carcasses will be ticked, and the entire animal will be confiscated and destroyed. If you have a CWD-positive harvest from another state, DEC can assist with safe disposal of the animal and recommend disinfection methods.

Take precautions when handling deer – Wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing or processing. Remove internal organs with knives or utensils dedicated for hunting. If you use lead ammunition, bury or landfill the organs to ensure scavengers, like bald eagles, do not accidentally ingest lead fragments. Trim generously around the wound channel and bag remaining carcass waste for the landfill.

Do not feed wild deer – Feeding is illegal year-round. Concentrating deer around food sources can spread diseases like CWD.

Report sick and abnormal deer to DEC – DEC would like to examine any deer that are very thin, drooling, standing with legs splayed and head lowered, listless, circling, or are easily approached. Contact the DEC Regional Wildlife Office near you (see Important Numbers) or visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html.

Avoid natural deer urine products – Commercially produced urine products are not tested for prions. Choose synthetic alternatives. You don’t want to contaminate your favorite hunting spot!

You cannot tell a CWD-positive deer by appearance alone

White-tailed deer in the end stages of CWD. It is emaciated, drooling, and easily approached.

DEC is proposing to prohibit importation of whole cervid carcasses from all areas outside of NY.
Before the 2019 big game hunting season, check DEC regulations online (www.dec.ny.gov) for an up-to-date listing of new CWD rules.