Chronic Wasting Disease 

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CWD Overview

What is Chronic Wasting Disease?
CWD is a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose in some areas of North America. It has not been found in Arkansas, yet. CWD attacks the brains of infected animals and is always fatal. It is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep. 

How is it spread?
It is not completely understood how CWD is spread. It is believed that the disease may be spread directly (animal-to-animal contact) and indirectly (soil- or other surface-to-animal). It is thought that the most common mode of transmission may be through saliva and feces. There is evidence that people have spread the disease by moving infected animals and portions of their bodies.

Symptoms of CWD

Infected animals may not show any symptoms of the disease. In some stages of the disease, however, infected animals begin to lose control of bodily functions and display abnormal behavior such as staggering, standing with very poor posture and losing fear of humans. Infected animals lose weight rapidly and often stand in or near water and drink excessively. They may also exhibit drooling or excessive salivation. Some of these symptoms are not unique to CWD and are found in other diseases affecting deer and elk.

Click here to learn more about this threat to Arkansas's deer and elk.

Cervid Carcass Importation Restrictions

In 2013, the AGFC adopted regulations to prevent CWD from spreading into the state through mishandled cervid carcasses. Cervids include any member of the Cervidae family, including white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, sika deer, fallow deer, mule deer and caribou.

According to Code 05.26 of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Code Book, it is unlawful to import, transport or possess any portion of a cervid carcass originating from any area outside the boundaries of Arkansas, with the following exceptions:

  1. Meat that has been completely deboned.
  2. Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates or cleaned skulls where no tissue is attached to the skull.
  3. Cleaned teeth.
  4. Finished taxidermy and antler products.
  5. Hides and tanned products.
  6. Other portions of deer originating from the land between the Mississippi River levees in Tennessee and Mississippi.  

Deer or elk harvested in commercial wildlife hunting resorts in Arkansas may be transported or possessed only after a CWD sample is collected.

Other Things Hunters Can Do to Help

  • If you kill an extremely skinny deer or one that is obviously sick, contact the AGFC, (800) 482-9262.
  • Don’t place urine-based deer or elk lures on the ground or vegetation where deer can reach them. Placing them out of reach of deer still allows air circulation to disperse the scent but prevents possible indirect transmission.
  • When field-dressing game, wear rubber gloves and don’t cut through the brain or spinal cord (backbone).
  • Always wash hands thoroughly after dressing and processing wild game.