RALEIGH, NC (October 13, 2023) – The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) confirms a 3 1/2-year-old female white-tailed deer harvested in Johnston County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The deer was hunter-harvested during archery season and represents the first detection of the disease in Johnston County since the state’s first recorded case of CWD in March 2022.
CWD is highly transmissible to other deer. It spreads through infected saliva, urine and feces of live deer and the movement of deer carcasses and carcass parts. During early stages of infection, deer may appear healthy, therefore, NCWRC stresses to hunters the importance of taking precautions when transporting or disposing of deer carcasses as this may lead to moving CWD to new locations.
NCWRC’s Wildlife Management Division Chief, Brad Howard, said, although a new detection in yet another county is disappointing, it illustrates that efforts to determine the extent of the disease in North Carolina are working, including the cooperation from hunters who have submitted samples for testing of the disease.
“Now more than ever we need the cooperation of sportsmen and sportswomen. We need to continue to test as many hunter-harvested deer as possible to determine the distribution of CWD in our state and how many deer are infected,” said Howard. “It is also essential that we understand how important it is to safely dispose of deer carcasses. Deer hunters must be vigilant and mindful of carcass disposal. The last thing we want to do is inadvertently move it to a new location. We continue to stress to "don't give it a ride."
Howard confirmed that the current Surveillance Areas in the northwest and southeast portions of the state will remain unchanged.
“Johnston County will become a primary county. However, the realities of establishing rules and ensuring hunters are aware of the changes during an open hunting season are challenging, and so the rules will not change for this season for Johnston County,” said Howard. Hunters should still be mindful of this new confirmed detection and follow NCWRC’s carcass transportation and disposal guidelines to prevent the potential spread of the disease to other locations. NCWRC also recommends hunters submit deer harvested in Johnston and surrounding counties for testing. Hunters can use NCWRC’s interactive map for information on testing locations. Additional locations will be added to the map throughout the hunting season.
NCWRC recommends that whole deer carcasses and high-risk carcass parts remain in Johnston County or be taken to a processor or taxidermist participating in the NCWRC’s Cervid Health Cooperator Program in an adjacent county for proper carcass disposal and test submission. Hunters should follow one of the following disposal methods if not taken to a Cervid Health Cooperator:
Low-risk carcass parts, including boned-out meat, caped hides, antlers and cleaned skulls, cleaned jawbones and teeth, and finished taxidermy products are safe for transportation to areas outside of Johnston County.
To learn more about CWD and NCWRC’s response, visit ncwildlife.org/CWD.