Conservation Connection: Deer Chronic Wasting Disease Testing

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(KPLR) – Deer hunting has begun in Missouri with the opening of archery season last Saturday.  With several confirmed cases of CWD found in northern Missouri, the Conservation Department is seeking help from hunters to keep a handle on this fatal deer disease.

Dan Zarlenga from the Conservation Department talks about what hunters can do to assist in the CWD monitoring effort.

Q.  What is CWD?

  • Chronic Wasting Disease
  • Fatal nerve disease that attacks cervids like deer
  • Caused by abnormal proteins or prions, that concentrate in the brain, spinal cord and lymph nodes
  • Transmitted by animal-to-animal contact, or contaminated soil-to-animal contact
  • The prions can stay in the soil and contaminate deer for years
  • Spreads faster when animals are unnaturally concentrated

Q. Where has the disease been confirmed?

  • Confirmed cases have been found in Macon County

Q. Can CWD cause harm to people?

  • According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, there is no evidence CWD can be transmitted to people
  • According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, no evidence CWD can be spread to domestic livestock
  • Still, if deer is tested positive, MDC suggests caution regarding consuming the meat, as with any type of diseased or unhealthy animal

Q.   What can hunters do to help?

  • Monitoring for CWD is crucial to tracking it and taking any future action
  • Voluntary monitoring program in effect from now to January 15
  • Limited to deer harvested in MDC`s CWD Containment Zone of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties
  • Hunters encouraged to take their harvested deer to one of numerous cooperating locations in the region
  • Removing a tissue sample is free, takes only a few minutes and will not reduce the food or mount value of harvested deer
  • Test results for participating hunters will be posted on the MDC website beginning in December

Q. How can hunters find out more?

  • A list of cooperating taxidermy and processing locations can be found in MDC`s '2012 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information' booklet available at MDC offices, from permit vendors
  • Online at
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