Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease that affects members of the deer/elk family (cervids). It was first described in 1967 in Colorado and since has spread to 23 additional states, Canada, South Korea, and Norway. CWD is similar to scrapie in sheep/goats and “mad cow disease” in cattle. These diseases are caused by misshapen proteins called prions, which accumulate in the tissues of affected animals, especially the brain, spinal cord, and lymph nodes. CWD is a slowly progressing disease. Infected animals will not show signs of disease for a long period of time, but late in the disease process, they will be thin and may demonstrate weakness, abnormal behavior, excessive thirst, or drooling. Animals generally die soon after the onset of these signs.
Statewide map of positive and negative CWD testing results as of September 7, 2017.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been no evidence to date of CWD transmission to humans. Nonetheless, consuming meat from deer or elk that appear sick or test positive for CWD is not recommended.
In February 2016, an elk harvested in the fall of 2015 near Pruitt in Newton County tested positive for CWD. This was the first documented case of the disease in the State of Arkansas. Also in February 2016, a white-tailed deer was found sick near Ponca in Newton County and tested positive CWD. An initial sampling effort in the vicinity of these cases found a total CWD prevalence of 23% in white-tailed deer from northern Newton County. Since the first detections, AGFC has sampled and tested over 5,000 deer and elk from around the state. Additional CWD positives have been found in Searcy, Marion, Newton, Boone, Madison, Carroll, and Pope Counties. Surveillance for this disease continues statewide. AGFC continues their surveillance activities and encourages Arkansans to report all sick deer and elk, 1-800-482-9262.
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Research suggests the CWD prion can be passed from infected cervids to healthy cervids through contact with feces, urine, or saliva as well as contact with CWD-infected carcasses or contaminated soil. Practices which unnecessarily congregate cervids or the improper disposal of carcasses both have the potential to increase CWD transmission. Therefore, steps to reduce the spread of CWD include avoiding activities which congregate deer and elk, reducing deer and elk densities, limiting the movement of potentially infected materials (i.e. carcasses) around the state, and limiting the dispersal of infected animals. In order to slow the spread of CWD within Arkansas, the AGFC has enacted the following regulations:
The best ways to dispose of deer remains while minimizing the possible spread of CWD is to bury the carcass or dispose of it in a lined landfill (list available below).
If you cannot dispose of the carcass in this manner, it is best to leave as much of the deer as possible where it was harvested, to prevent further spread of the infectious agent to new areas. The AGFC will work directly with hunters whose deer test positive for CWD to ensure all meat and parts are disposed of correctly.
The AGFC will be conducting free CWD tests for deer taken in the 11-county CWD Management Zone on opening weekend of Modern Gun Deer Season (see list below).
Although CWD testing is not mandatory for white-tailed deer in the state, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is happy to work with hunters who would like to have their harvested deer sampled for Chronic Wasting Disease through the 2017-18 season. If you would like to have your animal tested, please:
(Boone, Carroll, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Searcy, Van Buren and Yell counties)
It is unlawful to feed wildlife within the CWD Management Zone, except:
It is unlawful to import, transport or possess any portion of a deer or elk from the CWD Management Zone to any location in the state outside the management zone, except:
Landowners within the CWD Management Zone may apply for additional deer tags to harvest bonus deer. These deer must be submitted for CWD testing. Landowners should contact their local private lands biologist to receive these tags.
Some veterinarians around the state are providing CWD testing as a paid service to hunters. The cost will vary by location. Please contact the veterinarian’s office of your choice to make an appointment for sample collection. Testing results should be reported to you by your veterinarian but will also be available on this page.
If you are a veterinarian interested in adding CWD sampling as a service in your practice, please contact Dr. Jennifer Ballard at email@example.com.
The AGFC will collect samples for CWD testing from hunter-harvested deer in the 11-County CWD Management Zone on opening weekend of the modern gun season, Nov. 11-12 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hunters are encouraged to bring their harvested animals or the head with a portion of the neck attached to one of the sample sites listed below. Hunters will be able to get their results within a few weeks.
Van Buren County