The NCWRC is asking hunters for help in CWD surveillance by donating heads from harvested deer at a CWD Testing Drop-off Station during the regulated deer hunting season.
Download printable instructions. (PDF)
Interactive map of testing drop-off station locations.
Results are linked to your Harvest Authorization Number, written on your big game report card. Shipping and processing times at the lab can vary, so please allow several weeks for test results to appear.
If your deer tests positive for CWD, you will be contacted by a NCWRC biologist.
Download printable PDF
Reliable detection of CWD requires diagnostic testing of the lymph nodes found in an animal’s head and neck; there is no recommended CWD test for live deer.
CWD-infected deer can appear healthy and spread the disease to other deer for 18 months or longer before they begin to show notable symptoms. For this reason, finding CWD on the landscape requires testing healthy-looking as well as obviously sick deer.
For many years, the agency relied on tissue samples from road-killed deer and those provided by hunters in addition to investigating sick deer reported by the public. Previously, hunters were only able to donate samples from their deer when NCWRC field staff were present. The drop-off freezers provide a convenient way for hunters to donate samples that will help the NCWRC find CWD if it is present in an area.
In addition to robust sampling for CWD statewide, the NCWRC has adopted several rules intended to limit the spread of CWD in North Carolina; most notably a ban on the importation of whole carcass or high risk carcass parts of any cervid (deer, elk, moose, caribou/reindeer) harvested in another state. The agency is working through its CWD Response Plan given the March 31, 2022 confirmation of a positive deer in Yadkin Co. The agency routinely communicates with disease specialists and other agencies to better understand impacts of the disease and strategies to best monitor and manage the spread of the disease over time.
Hunters can donate samples from harvested bucks and does of any age. While older bucks are slightly more likely to test positive for CWD, testing deer from all age and sex classes increases our ability to find CWD if and wherever it is present.
Freezers should be available throughout the deer hunting season so you can drop off your deer head when it is most convenient to you. However, some drop-off freezers might not have 24-hour access throughout the week. See interactive map.
Yes, you may still leave your deer head if you’re not able to remove the antlers. However, removing the antlers allows more space for other samples and reduces the possibility that holes get poked in the bag. If you do not remove antlers from your deer, you will not receive those antlers back from the NCWRC. They will be discarded.
If you decide to remove the entire skull cap (rather than each individual antler), please take care to place any portions of brain attached to the skull cap in the bag with the deer head.
Expect several weeks to get your deer’s test results back. Staff are making every effort to empty the freezers at least once per week and must remove the sample tissues from each head, label and package them, then ship them to the diagnostic lab. Please be patient through this multi-step process.
View your test results
According to the Centers for Disease Control, to date there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. While there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans, some animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to certain types of non-human primates. The CDC states it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases (also including mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep) from entering the human food chain. See information on precautions for processing and handling deer.
If hunting in an area outside of North Carolina where CWD has been confirmed, you should have your harvested animal tested for CWD and avoid consuming meat from any animal testing positive.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, to date there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. While there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans, some animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to certain types of non-human primates. The CDC states that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases (also including mad cow disease and scrapie in sheep) from entering the human food chain. More information on precautions for processing and handling deer.
If hunting where CWD has been confirmed, have your harvested animal tested for CWD and avoid consuming meat from any animal testing positive.
As of March 31, 2022, one deer has tested positive for CWD in Yadkin Co. The full range and prevalence of CWD in NC is currently unknown, but the WRC is increasing surveillance to better understand the affected area.
There have not been any reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, the NCWRC recommends hunters follow a list of precautions for handling and deer to limit the potential spread of CWD in the environment and reduce the risks of food-borne illness in general.
Return to main CWD page.