Biologists Stress Testing Harvests for Chronic Wasting Disease During Deer Season

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AUSTIN— With the recent discovery of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Kaufman County, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists are stressing the importance of testing harvested deer taken this hunting season to curb the spread of this deadly disease.

CWD is a highly contagious and fatal neurological disease affecting members of the deer family such as white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. Hunters and landowners can voluntarily submit their harvest for free CWD testing at a TPWD check station or by contacting local wildlife biologists.

First recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado, CWD has since been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer in 30 states and three Canadian provinces. To date, 428 captive or free-ranging cervids — including white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer, and elk — in 17 Texas counties have tested positive for CWD.

Eradication of CWD is very difficult if not impossible when established in free-ranging deer populations and in the environment. Testing 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 greatly reduce the risk of the disease further spreading to neighboring captive and free-ranging populations.

Those hunting in CWD surveillance and containment zones need to know the submission requirements for susceptible species before hitting the field this season. Anyone hunting in an established CWD zone must bring their deer to a check station within 48 hours of harvest for testing.

There are about 30 check stations and drop boxes across the state in Kimble County, far West Texas, South Central Texas, the northwest Panhandle, Val Verde County, Hunt County, Lubbock County, Gillespie County, Limestone County and Duval County.

For more information about CWD, visit the TPWD website, the Texas Animal Health Commission website, or read about how hunters can help protect deer from CWD with a story from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine.

Find TPWD veterinarians speaking about CWD on the TPWD YouTube page.