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

APHIS Position Statement on Chronic Wasting Disease Testing


Official diagnosis of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) should be performed exclusively by Federal and State regulatory agency laboratories.


In the late 1960s, a clinical syndrome seen in captive mule deer came to be known as “chronic wasting disease” (CWD). This syndrome was identified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) in 1978. By mid-2001, an “endemic area” of 20,000 square miles in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, and southwestern Nebraska was identified. Recent events—including findings of CWD in free-ranging deer and elk in additional States and the interstate transport of CWD-exposed captive animals—indicate the need for a national strategy for managing CWD. In May 2002, a task group made up of representatives from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Interior, State agriculture and natural resources departments, and others convened to develop a plan addressing disease management, research, surveillance and information dissemination. The plan also specifically addressed diagnostics and the exclusive use of Federal and State diagnostic laboratories for that purpose.


The international credibility of the U.S. animal health system is in large part predicated on having an established set of government laboratories with the expertise to accurately conduct diagnosis not only for CWD, but also BSE, avian influenza, foot-and-mouth disease, and a host of other diseases of concern. The system is designed not only to ensure consistency and accuracy but also to preserve domestic and international market confidence in U.S. agricultural commodities. Indeed, a “false positive” for any disease could result in unnecessary public concern and costly regulatory action. And in the case of a disease like BSE, a false positive could be devastating, costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars in unnecessary domestic and international market disruption from which it could take years to recover.

Because of the limitations of currently available tests for CWD, testing serves purely as a surveillance tool to determine the geographic parameters and prevalence of the disease in the United States. A positive test result can be used as reliable information that the disease has spread into a given area. However, a negative test result is not necessarily a reliable indicator that an animal is free of the disease. Indeed, at this time there is no test that can be used reliably on individual animals to determine whether that animal is free from CWD. In addition, the demand for test results to provide to hunters implies food safety testing and no test has been shown to be sensitive enough to support use as a food safety test. This is because the disease has a very long incubation period, which may lead to “false negatives” during early infection. In addition, relatively little is known about the distribution of the CWD agent, so an animal whose brain and nervous system tissue tests negative might actually be carrying the infective agent in other tissues.

In order to ensure the integrity of the U.S. surveillance effort, USDA has designated an official test for CWD surveillance: the immunohistochemistry (IHC) assay as performed by APHIS’ National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) and State/university laboratories with which NVSL has contracted. These laboratories, as part of a national network, are being trained, proficiency tested, and supplied with control samples to perform official tests, and they will be linked through a reporting database. Currently, there are 10 laboratories with which APHIS has contracted to perform CWD testing, and APHIS is working to bring another 5 on line by January 2003. This capacity is more than sufficient to handle the increased surveillance testing planned this fall to determine the geographic distribution and prevalence of CWD in the United States.

Study Examines Venison Eaters’ Risk of Contracting Brain Disease

The race is on to find out whether a fatal brain disease in deer and elk poses a risk to human venison eaters. “That’s what everybody is trying to find out,” said Dr. Pierluigi Gambetti, head of a national team studying the occurrence of the deadly protein disease.

Perhaps most significantly, a National Institutes of Health laboratory in Montana is planning to experiment with primates to try to determine human susceptibility to chronic wasting disease.

“Primate research is the most direct way to find out if people are susceptible,” NIH research scientist Richard Race said. “It’s the species that’s most closely related from an evolutionary point of view to people. You cannot inoculate humans on purpose, so the next best thing is some kind of a non-human primate.”

But even with the groundbreaking research, Race said, answers are unlikely to come anytime soon. The process could take years, he said.

Meanwhile, Gambetti’s group and others are gearing up for studies of genetically manipulated mice to see if they can be infected with chronic wasting disease.

“We don’t know whether it can be transmitted to humans and, if it is transmitted, what it’s going to look like,” Gambetti said.

There are no proven cases of chronic wasting disease infecting humans, but concern has intensified as the disease has spread from its endemic areas in Colorado and Wyoming to several other states and two Canadian provinces.

There have been several cases reported in which human venison eaters have contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), which, like chronic wasting disease, is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), but one that occurs naturally in humans.

Gambetti said that these cases seem to fit into known subtypes of CJD, but he added that the assumption that human cases from deer or elk would look different upon microscopic examination than ordinary CJD is just that – an assumption.

Most scientists believe all TSEs – CWD, CJD and mad cow disease in cattle – are all caused by a mutant protein called a prion.

Most scientists believe there is a strong barrier preventing prions from one species from infecting another. But 131 European beef eaters have contracted a variant of CJD caused by eating cattle suffering from mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

That has sparked concern that other spongiform encephalopathies, including CWD, could jump to humans or livestock.

Using primates to search for answers is a costly and potentially controversial step, acknowledged Bruce Chesebro, head of the laboratory of persistent viral diseases at the NIH facility that will conduct the research.

Race, the chief scientist involved, knows the pitfalls. “No matter what the outcome, there are going to be people who fault how it was done,” he said. “One of the reservations we have is that there are no right answers. Whatever you give the primates, some people are going to say you gave them too much. Some people will say you didn’t give them enough.”

And there’s a political aspect, as well, Race acknowledged. “If word gets out that it’s actually being done, you get all the animal protest groups and people like that bugging you all the time,” he said. “One thing about it if we do it here (at the lab in Hamilton, Mont.) is that security is really tight.”

Race is the lead researcher on a continuing mice experiment that has shaken the prion field.

In it, hamster prions were injected into mice, which then showed no outward or microscopic sign of the disease. However, when brain matter from those mice is injected into another set of mice and hamsters, they become sick from mutant prions and die.

No one knows how these “sleeper carriers” stay healthy, or why subsequent test animals become sick. But it raises the concern that if CWD infected other animals, it is possible that at least the first generation of the infected species might not get sick.

“It used to be thought the hamster (prion disease) didn’t go into mice. There was a species barrier,” said Anne Raines, a fellow scientist at Rocky Mountain Laboratory. “And now we have some of those mice going down in a short amount of time – 100 days or so.”