On May 17, 2002, the Wildlife Resources Commission adopted emergency rules related to holding deer and elk in captivity. These emergency rules were adopted to prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease into North Carolina and to minimize the spread of this disease should it be found within our state. The Commission rules related to CWD are listed below. If you have any questions about these rules, please contact Kelly Douglass, our Captive Cervid Biologist, at (919) 707-0055.
Information for the Hunting Public
About the disease
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease of deer, elk and related animals characterized by microscopic empty spaces in the brain matter, creating a "spongy" appearance. Afflicted animals exhibit unusual behavior (see below) and eventually die. The source of the disease appears to be an abnormal protein, called a prion, in the nervous system. Transmission is between animals, but the method is unknown. Animals may be infected five years or more before showing symptoms.
Signs of Chronic Wasting Disease
- isolation from other animals
- lack of coordination
- frequent lowering of the head
- blank facial expressions
- repetitive walking in set patterns
- drooling and grinding of teeth
- drinking lots of water and increased urination
- extreme low weight
If you see a deer exhibiting numerous CWD symptoms, you can call the Wildlife Resources Commission at 1-800-662-7137. If you have harvested a deer that was showing symptoms, leave the animal at the site of the kill and call 1-800-662-7137.
Do not validate the animal on your Big Game Harvest Report Card as you may be offered the option of submitting the entire deer to the WRC for disease testing . If you do submit the entire animal for testing, it will not count towards your annual bag limit.
Hunting outside North Carolina
The Wildlife Resources Commission recommends that N.C. citizens wishing to hunt deer, elk or related wildlife bring back only...
- meat that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately)
- quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
- meat that has been boned out
- hides with no heads attached
- skull plates with antlers attached
- clean hides (no meat or tissue attached)
- upper canine teeth (i.e., "buglers", "whistlers", or "ivories")
- antlers with no meat or tissue attached
- finished taxidermy heads
There has been no documented case of humans contracting a CWD-like disease from deer. In fact, the World Health Organization states there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans. For optimal safety, the WRC recommends people do NOT eat…
- meat from a deer that looks sick
- any of the following organs: brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen, and lymph nodes
Should I have my deer tested?
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer and elk. Only three species in the deer family – white-tailed deer, elk, and mule deer – are currently known to be susceptible to CWD. In the United States the disease has been reported in wild deer from Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. While the disease has not been found in North Carolina or any other Southeastern or Atlantic Coast state, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has submitted 1,653 samples for testing since 1999. Very specific brain and lymph node tissues are required for testing, and the USDA has only certified 28 state and federal laboratories to test deer for the presence of CWD. Hunters should not shoot, handle, or consume any animal that is acting abnormally or otherwise appears to be sick. Contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (919-707-0050 or 1-800-662-7137) if such an animal is observed. More information concerning CWD can be found on the CWD Alliance Web site - http://www.cwd-info.org/. This Web site is updated regularly and serves as the primary information resource for professional wildlife managers and the hunting public. Links to specific topics of interest are also provided below.
General disease information:
Common-sense precautions for handling and processing deer:
Where CWD has been detected:
Carcass Transportation Regulations for other states:
This information would apply to North Carolina hunters that hunt deer and/or elk in other states. While North Carolina has no restrictions on the importation of carcasses from legally killed deer and elk from other states, we strongly recommend that hunters follow the guidelines provided in the link before importing such carcasses.