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CWD found in Craighead County

BY Keith Stephens

ON 02-22-2024

Craighead CWD

JONESBORO — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has confirmed that a hunter-harvested white-tailed deer taken in Craighead County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

The 2-year-old doe was harvested near Jonesboro during the Arkansas modern gun deer hunt. A CWD sample was collected by an AGFC employee at a biological checkstation that the hunter used for processing. That sample tested positive for CWD and was confirmed by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison.

In addition to Craighead County, three new counties are being added to the CWD Management Zone due to their proximity to other CWD positive cases found. Sharp, Cleburne and Mississippi counties will also be added to the CWD Management Zone. Sharp will be added due to the cluster of infected deer found within 5 miles of the county line in northwestern Randolph County near Dalton. In Cleburne County, a positive deer was found in close proximity to the county line near Shirley in Van Buren County along with a detection in 2022 in Independence County near Locust Grove. Several CWD positive deer just across the Mississippi River from Mississippi County in Tipton County, Tennessee have been found. In all three of these new counties, infected deer were found within the 10-mile buffer zone which increases the overall likelihood of the disease already being present in these counties. This proactive measure of including counties based on risk values is outlined in the state’s CWD Management and Response Plan. Visit for a complete list of CWD counties in Arkansas.

Cory Gray, chief of the AGFC’s Research Division, said, “Protecting the health of Arkansas’s deer herd is our top priority. We are being very proactive in all of our CWD management areas. Our desire is not to disrupt hunting, but to proactively address this disease while it is potentially at low prevalence.”

In keeping with the AGFC’s CWD Management and Response Plan, there will be no changes to deer-hunting regulations for the remainder of the 2023-24 deer hunting season.

AGFC Deputy Director Brad Carner said, “Including these counties in the CWD Management Zone allows us to implement targeted management strategies to slow the spread of this disease and minimize its impact on our deer population and hunting opportunities.”

Hunters who wish to have their deer tested for CWD can voluntarily take the head of the deer, with 6 inches of neck still attached, to one of the AGFC’s network of participating taxidermists to have a sample tested for free. They also may drop off the head at one of more than 100 CWD-testing collection stations positioned throughout the state. A list of CWD-testing facilities is available at Landowners near, especially those within 10 miles, of CWD-positive samples may contact the AGFC to participate in surveillance efforts in the area. For more information, call 501-710-6731.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk, caribou and moose. It was first detected in Arkansas Feb. 23, 2016. Since the first detection, AGFC has tested more than 40,670 deer and elk from across the state. To date, 1,260 deer and 38 elk have tested positive for the disease in Arkansas.

Research indicates that CWD is caused by a misfolded protein called a prion that is transmitted through feces, urine and saliva. Prions can survive for years in soil and plants. CWD can have an incubation period of at least 16 months, which means infected animals may not show immediate signs of disease. CWD prions accumulate throughout the body and affect an animal’s nervous system. The diseased prions cause normal cellular proteins to misfold into abnormal shapes that accumulate until neural cells cease to function. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite and develop an insatiable thirst. They may separate from their herds, walk in repetitive patterns, carry their head low, salivate, urinate frequently and grind their teeth.

Visit for more information.





Craighead County is the latest area where AGFC has confirmed the presence of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease found in members of the deer family.

A network of CWD drop-off locations allows hunters to have their deer tested for CWD for free.

AGFC has tested more than 40,670 deer and elk from across the state. To date, 1,260 deer and 38 elk have tested positive for the disease in Arkansas.

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