Chronic Wasting Disease and Deer “CWD”

This hunting season has been a blast. We have been aggressively hitting the woods and waiting in the stands patiently for hours and enjoying the success of filling the freezer….The reward from the fun and hard work has hit a brick wall. The other morning, I received an email from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. These three words, CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE appeared in the heading. Bummer right…. 

Approaching the new year, I will always address the positives and the negatives and what can be gained and learned from all situations.  After this list, we will discuss what CWD means and what we need to do during and after the hunt and harvest.

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Negatives/The Problem:

  1. Chronic Wasting Disease cases have been reported in my area….
  2. My previously harvested meat will be thrown away. (the hours and the enjoyment of seasoning and packaging our meat for the year is wasted… (disposing of the meat, is your choice, but it is recommended by the Center of Disease Control for humans to not eat deer meat that has been tested positive for CWD. If your meat has not been tested, why risk it; there are no concrete reports suggesting that it is 100% safe.
  3. This disease could potentially wipe out the deer population; CWD is progressive and is always fatal.


  1. As hunters, we are the best source and ally in helping the wildlife agencies study and possibly control the spread of the disease. Working collectively with your wildlife authorities will provide more data that would otherwise be difficult to obtain from a wide range of areas. We are the surveillance for Wildlife…
  2. In return for lawfully submitting our harvests to check stations, we get a few more weeks of hunting…
  3. There is the possibility that your harvested deer will test negative for CWD and you’ll have some extra meat for the year. 


What is CWD?

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk (or “wapiti”), moose, and caribou.  CWD is identified by chronic weight loss leading to death.

Although CWD has no known risk to the health of humans or livestock, it is a contagious and deadly neurological disorder that affects members of the deer family. It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment, and with contaminated feed or water sources. It is the most significant threat to the deer population nationwide, as it is 100 percent fatal to deer and elk.

So now…. you’ve made your clean kill, what do you do next? Below are the guidelines for the state of Tennessee. If you have any questions about your area, check the CWD affected States list below and reach out to us… We will guide you in the Right Direction.

  1. Take your harvest to one of the CWD check locations
  2. Process your deer, freeze it, and then check for its status
  3. If your deer tests positive, double bag it and dispose of the remains at your local landfill; if you need help with this process, contact your local wildlife management agency.


Current States Affected by Chronic Wasting Disease and One on the potential list….

Currently: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The two Canadian provinces are Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Potentially: Alabama.. due to positive deer located near the county lines in the Shoals area (Reported by (WAFF News and the Alabama Wildlife and Fisheries Division)


Sources and Photo Credits:

Featured Image from Youtube’s Veterinaerinst Institustett

Wikepedia Chronic Wasting Disease (photo credit)


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