Deer Hunting CWD
Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an infectious, fatal, neurologic disease of deer. Since 2009, a total of 109 CWD-positive deer have been confirmed in Virginia. While the vast majority of these detections have occurred in Frederick and northern Shenandoah counties, CWD has also been confirmed in Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Loudoun, Madison, Montgomery, Rappahannock, and Warren counties. The DWR cannot manage CWD alone and we need your help to slow the spread of this disease. Visit www.dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/ for details on what the DWR is doing to fight CWD. Please read the following text carefully to learn what you can do to help.
2021 Disease Management Areas
All counties located within 10 miles of a CWD detection are included in a Disease Management Area (DMA).
- DMA1: Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.
- DMA2: Culpeper, Fauquier, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, Page, and Rappahannock counties.
- DMA3: Floyd, Montgomery, and Pulaski counties.
When you hunt in a CWD DMA, one of the most important things you can do to help fight this fatal disease is to submit your deer for CWD testing. CWD can be slow to spread in an affected deer population, therefore several years of testing data is critical to allow the DWR to assess the status of the disease in the population. Testing helps the DWR do several important things, like monitor the infection rate of the local deer population and map the geographic spread. This information is critical to helping the DWR slow the spread of this disease. Hunters are a vital partner in DWR’s CWD surveillance efforts and their assistance is appreciated.
Voluntary DMA CWD Testing
Voluntary CWD testing is available free of charge for any deer harvested in a DMA at any time during the deer season. Interested hunters should drop off the deer head, plus 4 inches of neck, at a DWR refrigerator and follow posted instructions. Refrigerator locations for each DMA are described below.
- DMA1: Enders Fire Department in Clarke County; North Mountain Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company 19 and Winchester-Frederick Conservation Club in Frederick County; Department of Forestry in Shenandoah County; Elks Lodge in Warren County.
- DMA2: Brandy Station Volunteer Fire Department and Merrimac Grocery & Sports Shop in Culpeper County; Glascock Grocery & Nick’s Deli and Nick’s Country Market & Deli in Fauquier County; Philomont General Store in Loudoun County; Hidden Pines Deer Processing in Madison County; Eppard’s Processing and The Market at Locust Grove in Orange County; Stanley Volunteer Fire Department in Page County; Washington Volunteer Fire Department in Rappahannock County.
- DMA3: Fire stations #1 (Floyd), #2 (Willis), and #3 (Check) in Floyd County; 2206 South Main Street (Blacksburg) and Whitetail Outfitters in Montgomery County; Claytor Lake State Park (next to ice machine), Jim’s Grocery, and Pure Gas Northside Service in Pulaski County.
Mandatory DMA CWD Testing
- The DWR will be conducting mandatory CWD sampling on November 13 in DMA1 (Shenandoah only), DMA2 (Madison and Orange only), and DMA3 (Floyd, Montgomery, and Pulaski). All deer killed in these counties on November 13 must be brought to a designated CWD sample station for CWD testing Sample stations are open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- DMA1 sample stations (Shenandoah County): Graden’s Supermarket, Larkin’s Store, and Town & County.
- DMA2 sample stations (Madison and Orange counties): Barboursville Volunteer Fire Department, Carver Center, Hidden Pines Deer Processing, The Market at Locust Grove
- DMA3 sample stations (Floyd, Montgomery, Pulaski counties): Floyd Express Market and Willis Meat Processing in Floyd County; Elliston Fire Department, 2206 South Main Street (Blacksburg), Pilot Mountain Grocery Store and Riner Shell Station in Montgomery County; Dublin DWR public boat ramp at Claytor Lake, New River State Park Dora Junction, and New River Valley Fairgrounds in Pulaski County.
- There will be no mandatory CWD testing in Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Page, Rappahannock, or Warren counties in fall 2021.
- This sample effort may be affected by COVID-19 so please check www.dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd for updates.
- Early (Sept. 4-Oct. 1) and late (Jan. 2-March 27) antlerless-only general firearms season on private lands in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties.
- Earn a buck is in effect for Clarke, Frederick, Warren, and Shenandoah counties. See Deer Hunting Earn A Buck for additional details.
- Early (Sept. 4-Oct. 1) antlerless-only general firearms season on private lands in Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange, and Rappahannock counties.
- Earn a buck is in effect for Culpeper, Fauquier, Loudoun, Madison, Orange, and Rappahannock counties. See Deer Hunting Earn A Buck for additional details.
- Earn a buck is in effect for Floyd, Montgomery, and Pulaski counties. See Deer Hunting Earn A Buck for additional details
- DWR staff has recommended the following regulation changes in response to the Montgomery County CWD detection. If the DWR Board approves these recommendations this summer, they will go into effect for the 2021-22 deer season. Please check dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/dma-3/ for updates.
- Extension of the general firearms deer season (excluding National Forest lands) to four weeks in Montgomery and Pulaski counties (Nov. 13-Dec. 11).
- Creation of a Disease Focus Zone (DFZ), bordered to the north by I-81, to the east by Riner Rd (Rt 8), and to the south and west by the Little River, with the following harvest opportunities:
- Antlerless: Special early (Sept. 4-Oct. 1) and late (Jan. 2-March 27) antlerless-only general firearms seasons.
- Either sex: Landowners located within the DFZ with contiguous property totaling 5 acres or more are eligible for CWD Management Tags. Please check dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/dma-3/ for additional details.
- Removal of antler point restrictions from the Fairystone WMA quality deer management area.
Deer Carcass Transport
The movement of whole deer carcasses and certain carcass parts can spread CWD to new areas. As such, the DWR has restricted deer carcass part movements from higher-risk areas to lower-risk areas.
Restricted Transport of Deer Carcasses and Parts Originating from a DMA
Whole deer carcasses originating from within a DMA cannot be transported into a non-DMA county. Carcass parts allowed to be transported out of a DMA into a non-DMA county include:
- Boned out meat.
- Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
- Hides and capes with no heads attached.
- Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skulls and skull plates with or without antlers attached.
- Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
- Upper canine teeth, also known as “buglers,” “whistlers,” or “ivories.”
- Cleaned jaw bones.
- Finished taxidermy products.
Restricted Transport of Deer Carcasses and Parts Between and Within DMAs
- Deer originating from DMA1: Whole deer carcasses, and parts not listed above, may be transported anywhere within DMA1 only.
- Deer originating from DMA2: Whole deer carcasses, and parts not listed above, may be transported anywhere within both DMA1 and DMA2.
- Deer originating from DMA3: Whole deer carcasses, and parts not listed above, may be transported anywhere within DMA3 only.
Restricted Out-of-State Deer Carcass Importation
Importation or possession of whole deer carcasses originating from anywhere outside of Virginia is prohibited. This includes all members of the deer family, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, etc. See list above for deer carcass parts originating from anywhere that can be legally imported and possessed in Virginia.
A legible label shall be affixed to packages or containers holding the allowed carcass parts with the following information: the species of animal, the state or province from where the animal originated, and the name and address of the person who killed or possesses the allowed parts of the animal in Virginia. Any person who imports into Virginia any deer parts described above and is notified that the animal has tested positive for CWD must report the test results to the Department within 72 hours of receiving the notification.
Transport of Deer Carcasses from a Non-DMA County
Whole deer carcasses (and all associated carcass parts) harvested in a non-DMA county in Virginia may be legally transported anywhere within Virginia. However, due to potential disease transmission risks, it is advisable to avoid transporting whole carcasses long distances, if possible.
Carcass Disposal Recommendations
All hunters are strongly encouraged to dispose of deer carcass remains in local dumpsters, lined landfills, or using regular trash pick-up that will eventually be taken to a landfill. See the agency website listed below for disposal options for deer harvested in a DMA. If it is necessary to bury a carcass, hunters are advised to bury it as close to the kill site as possible and deep enough to prevent scavengers from digging it up.
Deer Feeding and Use of Attractants
Deer Feeding Prohibitions
Feeding of deer is prohibited year-round in Albemarle, Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Clarke, Craig, Culpeper, Dickenson, Fairfax, Fauquier, Floyd, Franklin, Frederick, Giles, Greene, Loudoun, Louisa, Madison, Montgomery, Orange, Page, Patrick, Prince William, Pulaski, Rappahannock, Roanoke, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren, Wise, and Wythe counties, and all cities and towns within these counties.
Natural Deer Urine Attractants Illegal in Virginia
It is illegal to possess or use deer scents or lures that contain natural deer urine or other bodily fluids while taking, attempting to take, attracting, or scouting wildlife in Virginia.
What Hunters Can Do to Help Fight CWD
- Keep hunting!
- Don’t feed deer and remove mineral licks
- Get deer harvested in a DMA tested for CWD
- Avoid long-distance movements of a whole deer carcass
- Don’t discard leftover deer carcass parts on the landscape – dispose in a landfill or bury
- Stay informed about CWD
For more information on CWD in Virginia, go to:
Reducing Lead Exposure
Lead poisoning of eagles, hawks, and other avian scavengers following ingestion of hunter-harvested game carcasses and gut piles is a clinical condition observed with increasing frequency in these species.
Bullets, particularly from high-powered rifles, can leave fragments of lead anywhere from 2 to 18 inches away from the wound tract. Up to 55% of these lead fragments can be embedded in internal organs that are routinely left in the field when hunters dress the animal. In California and Wyoming, 90% of tested deer gut piles were contaminated with lead fragments.
Birds with lead poisoning may exhibit seizures, paralysis, inability to fly, droopy head or wings, or death. Birds may consume a toxic amount of lead in a single exposure or may gradually increase their levels to a toxic point via multiple smaller exposures over a long period of time. Once lead reaches toxic levels, affected birds will die without medical treatment, which is not practical.
What can hunters do to minimize lead exposure in wildlife and humans?
As dedicated conservationists, hunters can reduce lead exposure by using non-toxic, non-lead ammunition, such as copper or copper alloys. Burying or removing gut piles from the field can also reduce lead intake by scavengers. Carcass parts should be buried or double-bagged and taken to a landfill. Buried materials should be covered with rocks or brush to prevent access by scavengers. Human exposure can be reduced by liberally trimming meat from around the wound tract and avoiding consumption of internal organs.