Chronic Wasting Disease
We Need Your Help to Protect New York’s Deer and Moose
What is CWD?
A contagious, fatal disease of cervids (deer, elk, moose, and caribou) that is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion, which causes holes to form in the brain. Animals become diseased from direct contact with live infected animals, animal parts, or contaminated soil and plants. Infected animals shed prions in saliva, feces, and urine before they die. An infected deer can look healthy for months to years before dying.
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. Deer populations and deer hunting will be impacted! Although there are no known human cases, the Centers for Disease Control recommends no one consume a CWD-positive animal. New York randomly tests thousands of deer each year. Hunters can make arrangements to have their deer tested: https://cwhl.vet.cornell.edu/hunter-cwd-testing.
Don’t Be a CWD Risk!
The actions of a few careless hunters can put all deer and moose at risk. The most likely modes of CWD introduction into New York are through: (1) illegal movement of infected carcasses or carcass parts of deer or elk taken by hunters in other states; (2) illegal import of live deer or elk for fee-based shooting of confined animals; or (3) use of infected urine-based lures by hunters.
How Can You Help?
Don’t let CWD into the state again! Know your regulations: http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8325.html.
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 can be brought into NY. Hunters who improperly import whole carcasses or prohibited parts will be ticketed, and the entire animal (including antlers) will be confiscated and destroyed. If you have CWD-positive deboned meat from another state, DEC will assist with safe disposal of the animal and recommend disinfection methods.
Avoid natural deer urine products – Commercially produced urine products may claim to be CWD-free, but manufacturers cannot guarantee their safety. There is currently no direct regulatory oversight of these products and purported testing has not been validated. Choose synthetic alternatives. You don’t want to contaminate your favorite hunting spot!
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 deer is illegal year-round. Concentrating deer around food sources can facilitate the spread of 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
Import Restrictions and Allowed Parts:
Hunters may not bring whole deer, elk, moose, or caribou into New York. You may only import:
- Deboned meat
- Cleaned skull cap
- Antlers with no flesh
- Raw or processed cape or hide
- Cleaned teeth or lower jaw
- Finished taxidermy products
For information on how to bone-out deer meat to remove high-risk tissues, visit the CWD Alliance: cwd-info.org