Carcass Transportation Regulations in the United States and Canada

cwd_mapDownload the full Chronic Wasting Disease and Cervidae Regulations in North America. [PDF]

Download a quick reference map of Rules Governing Interstate Transport of High-risk White-tailed Deer Carcass Parts [PDF].

The number one objective in the management of CWD is to prevent its spread into new areas. One theoretical mode of disease transmission is via infected carcasses. Therefore, in an effort to minimize the risk of disease spread, a number of states have adopted regulations affecting the transportation of hunter-harvested deer and elk.

Since the suspected infective agent (prion) is concentrated in the brain, spinal cord and lymph glands, the most common regulation is the prohibition of the importation of whole carcasses harvested from CWD areas. Some states, like Colorado, also have established regulations addressing the transport of deer and elk out of CWD areas. Generally, states that have adopted carcass transportation regulations do not allow the importation of any brain or spinal column tissue and allow transport of only the following:

  • Meat that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately).
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Meat that has been boned out.
  • Hides with no heads attached.
  • Clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.
  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached.
  • Upper canine teeth, also known as "buglers," "whistlers," or "ivories."
  • Finished taxidermy.

A summary of state-by-state carcass transportation regulations is provided in Column J of the regulations on each state page (accessible from the home page) or on the map. Since these regulations are continually evolving, it is recommended that before hunting you check the CWD regulations in your home state, the state in which you will be hunting and states in which you will travel through en route home from your hunting area. Most state wildlife agencies provide regulations information on their websites, and may be accessed via the clickable map on the home page.

The Carcass Transport and Disposal Working Group of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Fish and Wildlife Health Committee developed the following guidelines for regulatory and non-regulatory approaches to carcass transport and disposal. The intent of the working group is to encourage states to adopt policies that minimize risk; do not hinder hunting, wild cervid population management, or disease control; are easily understood; and promote compliance because they are consistent and well-justified. The recommendations are based on current knowledge of CWD and may be updated when new information becomes available. The Working Group recognizes state wildlife management agencies will tailor their approach to fit individual concerns and situations, and asks that agency directors, through AFWA, give serious and urgent consideration to this matter so that this potential risk of CWD spread can be minimized.

Transport and Disposal of Hunter-killed Cervid Carcasses: Recommendations to Wildlife Agencies to Reduce Chronic Wasting Disease Risks [PDF]

US Legislation

---April 6, 2004---
Senate Hearing on S1366 - Chronic Wasting Disease Financial Assistance Act of 2003

Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water
April 6, 2004

CWD Alliances’ Testimony PDF document
Other Testimony

---January 9, 2004---
S 2007 - BSE and Other Prion Disease Prevention and Public Health Protection Act

To provide better protection against bovine spongiform encephalopathy and other prion diseases.
S 2007 PDF document
S 2007 Word document

---June 19, 2003---
Congressional Hearing on HR 2057

U.S. House of Representatives
House Resources Committee
Subcommittees on Forests and Forest Health, and
Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
Thursday, June 19, 2003


---June 9, 2003---
HR 2431 - Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force Establishment Act of 2003 (Introduced in House)

To establish a National Chronic Wasting Disease Task Force, and for other purposes.
HR2431 Word document

---June 9, 2003---
HR 2430 - Chronic Wasting Disease Research, Monitoring, and Education Enhancement Act of 2003 (Introduced in House)

To amend the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act to coordinate and strengthen scientific research and monitoring, and to promote public outreach, education, and awareness, of Chronic Wasting Disease affecting free-ranging populations of deer and elk, and for other purposes.
HR2430 Word document

---June 9, 2003---
S 1366 - Chronic Wasting Disease Financial Assistance Act of 2003 (Introduced in Senate)

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to make grants to State and tribal governments to assist State and tribal efforts to manage and control the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer and elk herds, and for other purposes.
S1366 PDF document | Word document

---June 9, 2003---
HR 2636 - Chronic Wasting Disease Financial Assistance Act of 2003 (Introduced in House)

To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to make grants to State and tribal governments to assist State and tribal efforts to manage and control the spread of chronic wasting disease in deer and elk herds, and for other purposes.
HR2636 PDF document | Word document

---May 9, 2003---
S 1036 - Chronic Wasting Disease Support Act of 2003

Introduce in the Senate May 9, 2003 by Senator Allard (CO)
S1036 Word document
S1036 PDF document

---May 9, 2003---
HR 2057 - Chronic Wasting Disease Support for States Act of 2003

Introduced in the House of Representatives May 9, 2003 by Rep. McInnis (CO)
HR2057 Word document
HR2057 PDF document

---April 18, 2003---
FY 2004 Budget - Conservation Organizations Request Congressional Support for CWD

24 organizations sign letter requesting funding for National CWD Plan- April 18, 2003
Letter Word document

---May 16, 2002---
Congressional Hearing on Chronic Wasting Disease

U.S. House of Representatives
House Resources Committee
Subcommittees on Forests and Forest Health, and
Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
May 16, 2002
CWD Alliances’ Testimony PDF document | Word document

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Category Archives: National News

CWD Could Infect Humans: Wasting Disease Would Be Hard to ID, Scientist Warns

A new paper from a Denver neurologist suggests the possibility of humans contracting chronic wasting disease is underplayed and that the “most reasonable assumption” is CWD can be transmitted to some people.

Patrick Bosque, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, also wrote that scrapie – a CWD-like disease in sheep – can likely be transmitted to humans. Evidence to the contrary is “unconvincing,” he said.

Like many other researchers, Bosque said there is no known instance of a human infected by CWD, which fatally damages the brains of deer and elk via a rogue protein called a prion. But since prion diseases of any kind are so rare in humans, scientists might not be able to identify a CWD case were it to occur, he said.

“It would be obvious by now if humans were highly susceptible to CWD,” Bosque wrote, noting the disease has been present in wild deer and elk in northeastern Colorado for two decades or more without any reported cluster of a human version of the disease.

Bosque’s paper, published in Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, sounds a cautionary tone throughout and concludes that “practical measures to limit human exposure to animal prions, particularly CWD-infected deer and elk, should be improved.”

At the same, he said, the relative risk involved appears extremely small. As an example, he compared England’s annual rate of mad cow disease in humans – a disease in the same family as CWD – with the rate of U.S. deaths to far more common food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli. The former is lower than one case in 2 million. The latter, about one in 50,000.

Bosque, who earlier worked under Nobel Prize-winning prion researcher Stanley Prusiner, said that should CWD infect humans, the susceptibility rate would probably be similar to that of mad cow disease – that is, very low. So far, scientists believe 138 people have contracted the human version of mad cow even though millions were likely exposed to beef that might have carried the infectious prions.

Medical experts had an advantage in recognizing mad cow in humans, Bosque said: Its victims were far younger than those who typically contract a rare, sporadic human version of the fatal prion illness called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or CJD. In addition, the disease left a distinctive pattern in the brains of its victims.

But should CWD affect humans, it might not leave the same clues as the human version of mad cow disease did, Bosque writes.

“If, as appears to be the case with (mad cow)-to-human transmissions, only a small portion of the population is susceptible to CWD, then the association of disease with the consumption of venison might not be obvious.”

Bosque raises a similar point regarding scrapie: “It would be possible for a substantial proportion of cases of CJD to be caused by exposure to scrapie prions without this being epidemiologically apparent,” he wrote.

Bosque also questions the oft-cited notion that a so-called species barrier will prevent the transmission of CWD to humans. He calls the term misleading, saying the impregnability of such a barrier appears to depend on prion “strains,” each of which exhibit different characteristics, and on differences in the prion’s amino acid sequences.

“People throw out the term species barrier,” Bosque said in an interview. “It’s a poorly understood concept and usually not absolute.” In his paper he cited the example of goats, some breeds of which are more susceptible to sheep scrapie than are sheep.

Bosque’s paper comes at the height of hunting season in Colorado. Early indications suggest that most hunters aren’t concerned about the disease, as only about one in five appears to be seeking to test their animals for CWD.

Chronic Wasting Disease Update

Research conducted by USDA-ARS on the genetics of CWD infected white-tailed deer from Nebraska indicate that genetics does not have anything to do with the susceptibility of white-tail deer. The genetic makeup of 114 infected and non-infected animals were classified at Pullman, Washington. Results indicate that there are 6 major genotypes and 5 minor genotypes in the deer studied. All major genotypes were represented in the CWD population. We can conclude that CWD is not likely to be a genetic disease in white-tail deer.

Governor John Hoeven of North Dakota has issued an emergency order barring the importation of elk and deer carcasses from areas known to have CWD. The ban effects whole carcasses, the spinal cord and head. Processed meat and taxidermy heads can still be imported. The order was issued after a North Dakota hunter brought back an elk carcass from Colorado that tested positive for CWD.

A fourth captive deer farm in Wisconsin has been quarantined due to trace backs from the one positive CWD deer in a Portage County facility. The latest facility placed under quarantine is located in Dane County, just a few miles from the eradication zone where free-ranging white-tail deer have been confirmed with CWD.

A second deer farm in Wisconsin has had a white-tail deer test positive for CWD. This facility is located in Walworth County in the southeast part of the state. This brings the total of known CWD positive farmed deer to two for Wisconsin. The new case is approximately 80 miles from the Wisconsin eradication zone where free-ranging white-tail deer have been found with CWD.

A panel of experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has evaluated the Wisconsin DNR efforts to combat CWD and issued their findings. Their main findings are; 1) support of the DNR efforts to eradicate 25,000 deer in the eradication zone around Mt. Horeb, 2) the human health risk of eating venison infected with CWD is very, very low; and 3) deer hunters should not rely on testing to judge the safety of venison.

Archer and muzzleloader hunters in Colorado are passing on CWD testing of their harvested animals. So far, only about 1 in 5 of the successful hunters are submitting the heads of their animals for testing. 1,469 samples have been tested with 18 hunter killed animals and 2 officer killed animals testing positive from or close to the endemic area. The story for elk hunters is different as 700 samples were received in the Colorado State University Lab the first few days of the elk season.

Governor Scott McCallum of Wisconsin has announced that agreement has been reached with USDA-APHIS to help provide for additional testing of deer for CWD for Wisconsin hunters. USDA has facilitated finding additional laboratory capacity for up to 200,000 samples this fall. Wisconsin DNR will test 50,000 samples at state expense. Other hunters may have a sample taken by their veterinarian and the veterinarian will send the sample to one of the participating laboratories. The tests will cost the hunter between $25 – $75 each.

A emergency task force in Colorado, convened by Governor Bill Owens, will make several recommendations to the Governor reference the state’s efforts to combat CWD. One of the major recommendations will be for mandatory double fencing around deer and elk ranches exposed to CWD. Other recommendations include continuation of efforts to expand the capacity of testing facilities and continued research and funding for a rapid CWD test.

The count keeps climbing in Wisconsin. There were 358 deer harvested in August and 9 of these tested positive for CWD. This gives a total of 40 positive of approximately 1500 tested for an infection rate of 2.6%.

Senators Seek to Aid Hunters: Bill Would Provide More Options for Having Deer Tested

U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl on Thursday introduced a bill designed to provide hunters with more opportunities to get their venison tested for chronic wasting disease. If the bill becomes law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be required to:

Release guidelines for the collection of animal tissue to be tested within 30 days.

Release a protocol to be used in the laboratory assessment of animal tissue that may be contaminated with the disease within 30 days.

Accelerate research into the development of animal tests for the disease, including tests for live animals and field tests, within 45 days.

The bill by the two Democrats is the latest attempt since the discovery of the disease in Wisconsin in February to address concerns about the safety of venison by providing better and faster tests by the government and the private sector.

Also, the senators charged the U.S. Department of Agriculture with moving too slowly in giving help to Wisconsin and other states that are afflicted with the deadly deer disease.

“The USDA has really dropped the ball in providing the necessary resources and assistance to assure that Wisconsin hunters have the information they deserve,” the senators said in a statement.

Ed Curlett, a spokesman for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service, said the agency had not moved slowly and had sped up approval of new government labs for testing since the spread of the disease this year.

Within 30 days of passage of the bill, the measure would require the USDA to develop a program for the inspection and certification of federal, state and private labs to conduct tests for the disease.

Within 45 days, the bill says, the agency would have to accelerate research for testing on live animals, field diagnostic tests and developing protocols that would speed the turnaround time of lab tests.

Further, the bill requires the department to come up with a plan to prevent the spread of new diseases, such as epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a blood-borne pathogen that was discovered recently in same area of Wisconsin where chronic wasting disease has been discovered.

Currently, only federally approved labs are permitted to test for chronic wasting disease. State officials are planning to conduct about 50,000 tests this year, including 500 tests in nearly every county. That breadth of testing should help deer hunters understand how prevalent the disease is in their area, if it’s there at all, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

But as the disease has spread, demand for testing appears to be outstripping the capacity.

This prompted a Hayward business to announce last month that it would sell a testing kit directly to Wisconsin hunters this fall. Wildlife Support Services is getting around the federal approval requirement by packaging parts of the test separately.

The senators’ bill pleased William “Butch” Johnson, who is marketing the private test.

“I think it is great,” he said. “It not only could affect a small lab like ours. But it opens up the possibility of testing for other labs.”

Curlett, of the federal inspection service, emphasized that tests for chronic wasting disease were not a food safety test but were intended tomtest for the presence of disease.

He said the best thing for hunters would be to watch for testing results in the area where they hunt.

There have been 31 cases of chronic wasting disease in the wild deer population – all centered in a 389-square-mile region of Dane, Iowa and Sauk counties. One deer has tested positive on a Portage County game farm as well.

CWD ALLIANCE NOTE: This bill is known as S 3090 -Comprehensive Wildlife Disease Testing Acceleration Act of 2002, and can be viewed on this website under the “Policy & Legislative” tab.

Chronic Wasting Disease Update


The Nebraska Department of Agriculture and USDA-APHIS have completed the depopulation of 15 captive cervid facilities in the Nebraska Panhandle. There were 7 facilities that did not choose to participate in the depopulation effort. This program was undertaken to remove as many captive operations from the Nebraska endemic area as possible. Approximately 1,000 elk were depopulated and are in the process of being tested for CWD.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Wednesday it will temporarily ban imports of deer meat and related products from South Korea in the wake of an outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) affecting cervid animals there. (NOTE: I am unaware of the extent of CWD in South Korea but only know of one case in an elk in 2000. Anyone have additional information?).

A bull elk killed in the Middle Park area of Colorado has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The discovery suggests the disease has jumped the Continental Divide again, this time not associated with a captive cervid facility. This is the second infected wild elk found west of the Divide. Earlier in the week the Colorado Division of Wildlife announced that an elk euthanized Sept. 6 near the northwest Colorado town of Hayden also had CWD.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has confirmed that three mule deer from Jefferson County, Colorado have tested positive for CWD. These are the first cases of CWD in the Denver metro area and are located just north of Golden, Colorado. One of these animals was harvested by a hunter, one was a dead deer found and tested and the third was part of an agency culling operation. The Division of Wildlife is planning on additional culling operations to determine the extent of CWD in the area.

The Colorado chapter of the Wildlife Society is calling for an end to commercial elk ranching in the state, in part because of concerns over chronic wasting disease. The society called for the ranches to be phased out during a two-year period, with state general funds being used to compensate the ranchers for animals that haven’t been disposed of after that time. The Wildlife Society’s members are professional wildlife biologists in federal and state agencies and private enterprises. Greg Phillips, a society spokesman, said the society had been considering its recommendation for a year, prompted by the rising concern over the role of elk ranching in spreading CWD in the state.

To help achieve population management goals and prevent the spread of CWD, Colorado Division of Wildlife staff have culled 861 deer and elk on private and public property in several areas in northeastern Colorado since January 2002. Every deer collected was examined to further understand CWD distribution, prevalence and transmission. In some areas specific groups of deer were targeted for removal because CWD cases had been previously detected nearby. In many of these situations, prevalence among culled deer was much higher than expected based on survey data. This finding suggests that targeted culling around CWD “hotspots” may be an effective management strategy.

CWD Expert Vouches for Safety of Venison

CWD expert vouches for safety of venison Dennis Anderson Star Tribune Published Sep 13, 2002

Dr. Elizabeth Williams of the Wyoming Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie, Wyo., has studied chronic wasting disease in deer and elk since 1977. A recognized authority on the disease, Williams, in the interview below, discusses, among other aspects of the disease, theories on how CWD is transmitted. She also advises Minnesota deer hunters afield this fall to “enjoy their hunt” and, as she does herself, to eat venison.

Q: Chronic wasting disease was first found in 1967 in Colorado at a government testing facility. Was there panic at that time among hunters and the public?

A: No, it was just another oddball disease. There was no reason to be that concerned, except to the degree that it had an impact on the animals that were being studied for other purposes. Certainly there was no sense of alarm. Frankly, until the cases were found in Wisconsin recently, and news of CWD there hit the media, most people were taking the disease in stride. People have gotten much more concerned about it since then, and interest has heightened.

Q: How do you think CWD found its way to Wisconsin?

A: I don’t know. It will take more work to get a better idea about that. How wide the distribution is in wild deer in Wisconsin will be important to know. What’s happening in the captive cervid industry in the state will also be important to know. Even then, I’m not sure we’ll ever know.

There are multiple ways the disease could have traveled. One is the captive cervid industry. Another, theoretically, at least, involves the transportation of carcasses by hunters from outside the state. One of the origins also could be scrapie, which is a disease in goats and sheep. That hasn’t been proven, but it’s possible. One other idea is that the disease simply occurs spontaneously.

Q: What is the possibility that CWD has always been around?

A: We’ll have a much better idea after Wisconsin and other states, including Minnesota, test a lot of deer, as they plan to this fall. Don’t forget, if it is present at a very, very low level in wild herds, predators, including coyotes, usually are pretty good at cleaning up sick animals. So without testing of a lot of animals, it might otherwise be difficult to detect.

Q: How sure are you that CWD can’t infect humans?

A: The term “species barrier” describes the level of resistance that exists to transmitting a disease from one species to another. I’m a veterinarian, and I rely on the information about these barriers that is given to me by the Center for Disease Control. I also refer to laboratories that develop models using species that have certain things in common with human genetics.

So far, the models indicate that there is quite a barrier blocking this type of transmission. At this point in time, no human link has been found to CWD.

Obviously, there are some unknowns, so you take precautions to minimize risk. You don’t eat sick animals, for instance.

Q: CWD tests are performed, or will be performed, for hunters this fall in Colorado and Wyoming.

A: Yes. Here at our lab, we use a test that has long been recognized as reliable and verifiable. In Colorado this fall, they will be using a new test. It’s a good test, developed in France. The problem is that this test hasn’t yet been validated for CWD, and as a diagnostic person, I like to use tests that are validated. At our lab, we test about 1,000 animals a year, including those from the public. We’ve been testing for about five years, but obviously at only 1,000 animals there hasn’t been a huge demand for it. We charge $25.

Q: Do you typically find many positive CWD cases in wild deer and elk submitted to you?

A: Yes. It runs around 6 to 7 percent. These are animals that are positive for CWD but are not clinically ill.

Q: By “clinical” you mean the animal is showing symptoms of behavior changes.

A: Yes. And if an animal is symptomatic, it means the disease has been there a while. A minimum incubation period is 17 to 18 months. In fact, for an elk, that would be quick. More likely would be three to five years. Once they show symptoms, they can be sick for a few weeks or up to a year before they die.

Q: Are moose and caribou susceptible?

A: As far as we know they’re not naturally susceptible.

Q: Are mule deer and whitetails equally vulnerable to CWD?

A: They’re very similar. My guess is we won’t see a lot of difference in them. It might be that whitetails are more susceptible. But that’s only a gut feeling of mine.

Q: What role, if any, has the domestic elk industry had in the spreading of CWD?

A: We know that domestic elk are, or have been, moved in commerce, from place to place, on trucks. So they make larger geographic jumps than would otherwise be the case. We also know the disease was transferred from a domestic elk herd in South Dakota to a domestic herd in Saskatchewan.

Q: Minnesota and Wisconsin hunters and their families seem to be quite concerned about CWD and its potential ill effects on their health, this despite what officials have said about CWD being a deer and elk disease, not a human disease. What’s your advice to people in the Midwest as the fall hunting seasons begin?

A: Enjoy your hunt. If you see a skinny animal, contact authorities. Otherwise, enjoy your hunt and enjoy your venison. I say that as a hunter myself. I enjoy venison a lot. I’m not about to stop hunting deer or eating venison.

Q: But some people worry that CWD will prove to be similar to mad cow disease, in which it was found in livestock quite a while before it was diagnosed in people.

A: Mad cow was diagnosed in livestock in 1986, and they first recognized cases in humans in 1996. So a 10-year span separated the two. But the situation with CWD is quite different. Obviously, the number of people exposed to CWD would, even theoretically, be a lot less than the people in England who ate beef. So they aren’t directly comparable.

Additionally, public health people in Colorado and Wyoming have studied health records in the two states for any unusual numbers of neurological diseases over the years, but there haven’t been any, either in the public at large or among hunters.

— Dennis Anderson is at [email protected]

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