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Chronic Wasting Disease

What Is CWD

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 August, 8, 2017. 

  Statewide map of positive and negative CWD testing results as of August, 8, 2017. Click on map for larger image.   
  • Is CWD Harmful to Humans?

    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. Visit for additional information and recommendations.

  • Where in Arkansas Has It Been Found?

    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.

    Positive CWD cases found as of August 9, 2017

    County CWD-positive Deer CWD-positive Elk
    Boone 11 0
    Carroll 21 0
    Madison 7 0
    Marion 2 0
    Newton 164 5
    Pope 2 0
    Searcy 1 1
  • What Can Be Done to Manage CWD?

    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:


Chronic Wasting Disease Regulations

  • Statewide Regulations
    • It is unlawful to use natural scents or lures that contain natural deer and elk urine or other biofluids, as of Jan. 1, 2017.
    • It is unlawful to rehabilitate deer.
  • Within Deer Zones 1 and 2
    • Button bucks no longer count toward a hunter’s two-buck seasonal bag limit. They must be checked as button bucks, but will count toward antlerless limits for those zones.
    • Any buck may be legally harvested; Three-Point Rule has been removed.
    • Bag limit has been increased from four to five deer (two antlered bucks, three antlerless with firearms, five antlerless with archery).
  • Within the CWD Management Zone

    (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:

    • Bait may be used to hunt deer and elk on private land from Sept. 1-Dec. 31.
    • Food plots may be used year-round.
    • Baiting bears on private land is allowed 30 days before bear season opens. However, before Sept. 1, bears may only be baited with dog food, cat food, pastries/bread, cooking oils/grease, non-wildlife meat scraps, popped popcorn, fish and fish byproducts.
    • Trapping furbearers with the use of bait during open furbearer trapping seasons or hunting furbearers during open furbearers hunting seasons on private land.
    • Incidental feeding of wildlife from active livestock operations is allowed.
    • Normal agricultural, gardening or soil stabilization practices are allowed.
    • Attracting or feeding birds and squirrels with common bird and squirrel feeders, bird baths and grain completely submerged in water is allowed.
    • Baiting is allowed for management, research or nuisance wildlife control only with approval by the AGFC Chief of Wildlife Management.


    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:

    • Antlers and cleaned skulls
    • Meat with all bones removed
    • Cleaned teeth
    • Hides
    • Finished taxidermy products


    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.

  • Special elk regulations
    • Elk within the Core Elk Management Zone (Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties) may only be harvested by holders of public land elk hunt permits or private land elk hunt permits in accordance with those permits.
    • Any elk outside the Core Elk Management Zone may be harvested by a hunter who is legally hunting for deer with a weapon legal for that season. Seasonal bag limit, one elk either sex.
    • All elk harvested statewide must be checked. Samples from checked elk must be submitted for CWD testing. Hunters must call 800-482-9262 for instructions on checking elk and submitting samples.


Modern Gun Opening Weekend CWD Testing Locations

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 by visiting .

  • Testing Locations By County as of July 2017


    • Lead Hill Saddle Club Arena
      103 Park Drive, Lead Hill


    • AmeriGas Office
      142 U.S. Highway 62 W., Berryville
    • Osage Clay Works
      16501 Arkansas Highway 103, Osage


    • Hagarville Grocery and Station
      11925 Arkansas Highway 123, Hagarville


    • U.S. Forest Service Office
      2190 E. Main St., Booneville


    • Combs Store and Café
      10342 Arkansas Highway 16, Combs
    • McIlroy Madison County WMA
      272 Madison County Road 1235, Huntsville


    • Yellville City Park
      Arkansas Highway 14, Yellville


    • Arkansas Forestry Commission Office
      Route 1, Box 275, Western Grove
    • National Park Service Maintenance Shop
      HCR 73, Box 176 B, Marble Falls
    • U.S. Forest Service Office
      18360 Arkansas Highway 16 W., Deer


    • Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department Storage Facility
      Arkansas Highway 7 (1 mile south of 16/123 intersection at Pelsor)
    • AGFC Regional Office
      1266 Lock and Dam Road, Russellville


    • Crockett’s Country Store and Buffalo River Canoe Rentals
      Intersection of Arkansas highways 14 and 27
    • Searcy County Airport
      894 Airport Road, Marshall

    Van Buren

    • Dead Drop Outdoors
      123 South Hills Drive, Damascus


    • U.S. Forest Service Work Center
      20557 Arkansas Highway 27 S., Rover