Chronic Wasting Disease Spread

is Affecting Game Near You

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MAR 11, 2022

Hunting Stories - Piedmont Game Calls - The Inside Spread

Category: Conservation

​By now, if you have hunted for Deer across North America, you have heard of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The CDC defines CWD as a prion disease that affects Deer, Elk, Reindeer, Sika Deer, and Moose. It may take over a year before an infected animal develops symptoms, including drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness, and other neurologic symptoms.

Chronic Wasting Disease is spreading across several states. This spreading is a cause for concern as there is no cure or guaranteed way to prevent the disease from spreading. Most people interested in this topic wonder, “Can humans get Chronic Wasting Disease?” The simple answer to this question is no. Even though there is no conclusive study of the effect of CWD on humans, they still believe there is a risk.


CWD Deer

As of March 2022, at least 380 counties have reported Chronic Wasting Disease in Deer, Elk, and Moose, covering 29 states. The main target of CWD, though, has been the White-tailed and Mule Deer. This can affect hunters as outbreaks can decrease populations if not managed correctly. However, Government bodies that research these populations still have very little in the way of answers. Alabama is the newest state added to this list as they had their first-ever case of CWD in January 2022.

Having no answers about CWD Deer has not stopped Congress from getting involved. H.R.5608 – Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act was introduced in October of 2021. This legislation has been referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in December of 2021 for further clarification. Congress is seeking funding to figure out what is going with Chronic Wasting Disease.

If passed H.R. 5608, which seems like a far way off, it would cost taxpayers to the tune of $70,000,000 for each fiscal year from 2022 to 2028. Even with the enormous cost, it would help possibly solve the problem of where it comes from and why Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease spreads so quickly. The hope would be that they could find a way to prevent it from affecting Deer long-term.

Every bill surrounding wildlife has its positives and negatives. It would be a significant victory to understand CWD further, but it could change, limit, or increase hunting opportunities depending on the findings. Many supporters of this bill are a part of hunting conservation groups because they believe that any short-term pain would lead to answers every hunter has been looking into for years.


Chronic Wasting Disease Changing Hunt Area in Idaho​

An example of a positive hunting opportunity comes from a proposal from the Idaho Department of Fish & Game that is up for public comment until March 13th, 2022. The proposal for 2022 allows for increased tags or changing the season to better manage populations in Unit 14.

Increase Mule Deer Harvest

  • Option 1: Increase antlered mule deer-controlled hunt tags from 180 to 400 tags with the hunting season running from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.
  • Option 2: Replace existing antlered controlled hunt (180 tags) with a general-season, antlered-only hunt from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.

Add Antlerless Mule Deer Hunt

  • Add new mule deer extra antlerless hunt with 200 tags from Oct. 10 – Nov. 20. “Extra tags” allow hunters to harvest an additional animal in addition to a regular or controlled hunt tag.

Add White-tailed Deer Extra Tags

  • Option 1: In addition to the existing general season, either-sex whitetail hunt, add a new extra antlerless whitetail hunt with 250 tags, and a new whitetail, extra antlered tag with 250 tags. Each hunt would run Oct. 10 – Nov. 20.
  • Option 2: Extend the existing general, either-sex hunt from Oct. 10 – Dec. 31.

Increase Elk Tags

  • Increase elk tags in one landowner permission hunt in Controlled Hunt Unit 14-1 from 50 tags to 80 tags and extend the southern boundary of the hunt unit about 3 miles.


Chronic Wasting Disease Map


​CWD in Deer is thought to spread through saliva, feces, and urine because of how fast it spreads. That has not been proven. It is easy to see on the map that it is becoming a problem in several parts of the United States. If CWD has not touched your neck of the woods yet, it may unless we do something about it now. Typically, Deer with chronic wasting disease are mature bucks. They most susceptible to spread CWD, in addition areas with high deer density are also prone to CWD spread.

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Can Humans get Chronic Wasting Disease?


There officially have been zero recorded cases of Chronic Wasting Disease in humans. That should put your mind at ease about eating your recent kill. However, there is still a concern since it has not been studied extensively.

The first step after a harvest is to get your Deer tested. Most states do not require this testing unless a harvested animal is in a known CWD county. Check with your local game & fish to ensure that you are following the regulations on testing requirements. If positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, it is typically up to you if you want to eat it or not.

If you have recently hunted Deer across the Midwest or West, you have heard of Chronic Wasting Disease and its effects on deer populations. Many challenges have to need to be overcome before we can declare victory over CWD. However, all hunters, conservation groups, state & federal game agencies need to get involved to do what is right to preserve hunting for generations to come.

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