Why test for CWD?

  • Testing deer and other susceptible species for CWD allows wildlife biologists and animal health officials to get a clearer picture of the prevalence and distribution of the disease across Texas.
  • Proactive monitoring improves the state's response time to a CWD detection and can reduce the risk of the disease further spreading to neighboring deer populations. With each discovery of a new CWD-positive area in the state, CWD zones are established as a strategy to manage and contain the disease.
  • Testing within established CWD zones will help determine the geographic distribution and prevalence of the disease or, in some cases, confirm that the disease has not been established outside of captive-deer breeding facilities.

How do I know if I am required to have my deer tested?

  • Testing all harvested susceptible species is required if harvested within the boundaries of one of the CWD zones. Since these CWD zones change, it's best to consult the TPWD website for the specific area of your hunt to determine if testing is required. Hunters who harvest mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk or other CWD-susceptible exotic species within a CWD Zone where mandatory sampling is required must have their animal tested for CWD.
  • Hunters are required to bring their harvested animal to the designated check station for that CWD zone within 48 hours of harvest.
  • To see if your hunting location is in a CWD zone, see the CWD zone map.

Where is the nearest check station?

CWD check stations and CWD drop boxes are established in or near each CWD zone where mandatory sampling is required. Hunters in CWD zones with mandatory sampling are required to take their harvested deer to the check station or drop box designated for that zone. Voluntary check stations, not associated with CWD zones, are also located across the state for hunters desiring to have their deer tested. For current information on check stations (including hours and locations), visit the map at the TPWD or Outdoor Annual websites. Call your local TPWD biologist, they will be happy to arrange for testing if you are not in a CWD zone.

What do I need to bring to the check station to have a deer tested?

TPWD staff will collect a tissue sample from the head of the deer for testing purposes. The head may be attached to the carcass or separated. If you separate the head from the carcass, it is very important to include the first two to three vertebrae to keep the necessary samples intact. Place the head in a plastic trash bag and keep it cool (but not frozen) until you get to the station.

Can I take my deer out of a CWD zone?

There are restrictions on which parts of a harvested deer may be transported outside of a CWD zone to help prevent the unnatural spread of CWD.

Parts that may be transported from a zone include:

  • cut quarters with all brain and spinal cord tissue removed
  • boned-out meat
  • cut and wrapped meat
  • caped hides with skull not attached
  • skull plate with antlers attached and cleaned of soft tissue
  • finished taxidermy products
  • the skinned or unskinned head of a deer for transport to a taxidermist (Deer Head Waiver Form must accompany the head to the taxidermist.)

Is testing free?

Yes, TPWD will provide free CWD testing for all your hunter harvest samples.

How long does it take to get results?

On average, about two weeks. You can access your results on the TPWD CWD website.

How can I tell if a deer has CWD?

Only through diagnostic testing. Both healthy and sick-looking deer can be CWD positive as visible symptoms do not become apparent until the terminal end-stage of the disease. An animal infected with CWD may be shedding prions, the agent that causes CWD, well before symptoms become apparent. The disease cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone since other diseases or conditions can cause the animal to exhibit similar symptoms.

What other precautions should I take?

Properly dispose of carcass parts. Leave inedible parts at the site of harvest, or preferably, dispose of them in a landfill or bury them on the property of harvest if in a CWD zone.

Is CWD dangerous for humans?

Researchers have found no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans or domestic animals. However, as a precaution, it is strongly advised to test susceptible species harvested in known CWD areas and to not eat meat from CWD-positive animals or any sick animal, regardless of the disease.

General CWD FAQs

FAQs for Landowners