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 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

© Copyright 2002 Star Tribune. All rights reserved. Related content

Chronic Wasting Disease Update

CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE UPDATE September 13, 2002 Prepared by Bruce Morrison, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Testimony of a former deer hauler who has turned states evidence in an investigation of the illegal movement of cervids has reveled some disturbing information. This informant had hauled numerous loads of illegal deer and elk that were shipped to various states by brokers working out of Michigan. These deer and elk were unmarked and untested and are valuable to hunters due to the fact that any animal that shows signs of captivity cannot be entered into most record books. Hunts behind high wire for trophy size animals go for between $40,000 and $50,000, making it a high profit business. The majority of the deer moved by the informant were free-ranging deer caught in Ontario and brought into the U.S. at a border crossing in Montana where the guards did not check closely. The animals were moved at night to prevent law enforcement checks and keep the animals cool. Major destination states were Texas, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Mississippi. Two sets of papers were carried by the driver, one for law enforcement and one for the rancher receiving the animals. Veterinarians were paid to falsify the papers to get the shipments through the borders. Information provided by the informant indicates that approximately 25,000 illegal deer a month are shipped in the United States.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has approved a buy-out plan submitted by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. This plan will permit the buy-out of any captive cervid producer in the Nebraska endemic area, located in the Panhandle area of the state. This is similar to the effort undertaken in the Colorado endemic area a few months ago. It is estimated that the majority of producers in the area will participate and over 1,000 elk will be euthanized and tested. The goal of this effort is to remove captive cervids from the endemic area to prevent the spread of the disease to other captive populations.

The University of Nebraska system has announced that they will be closing the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in North Platte, Nebraska. This is in response to budget cuts from the Nebraska Legislature during a recent special session. This follows the closure of the Scottsbluff Veterinary Diagnostic Lab last year. The only remaining publically operated lab in Nebraska is now located at the main campus in Lincoln.

Tests conducted on one of the three Wisconsin men who died from brain disease confirmed that he died from Pick’s disease, a brain disease more common than Creutzfeldt-Jacob. The Centers for Disease Control have obtained brain tissue from the other two men and will be conducting tests to determine cause of death. Results are not expected for another two weeks. These are the men who had eaten venison at a wild game feed and the media frenzy caused a stir among hunters in the Midwest.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has confirmed that a mule deer killed near Chatfield has tested positive for CWD. This is in the southwestern part of the Denver metro area and is the southern most occurrence in Colorado. According to Dr. Mike Miller the finding was “disappointing but not surprising”.

The Minnesota DNR has collected 47 deer from Aitkin County, where CWD was confirmed recently in a captive elk. They have submitted the brain stems to NVSL in Ames for testing. They plan on collecting a minimum of 500 deer from hunters in the vicinity this fall to determine if the disease has jumped from captive to free-ranging animals.

The Georgia Outdoor News magazine is offering a reward of $1,000 to the first person who provides information to the Turn in Poachers hotline that helps the Law Enforcement Section fo the Georgia Department of Natural Resources make an arrest on charges of transporting deer or elk into the state without a permit.

Experiments are underway in Colorado, Wyoming and Iowa to determine if CWD is transmissible to cattle. Preliminary data have shown that it is extremely difficult to infect cattle with CWD. Only a few cattle became ill after having the CWD pathogen injected directly into their brain. Cattle that have lived in close contact with infected deer and ingesting infected deer brain matter have not developed the disease during the first five years of a ten year study. Based on this information and other research, it appears that there is a substantial biological barrier to transmission of CWD from deer to cattle.

The implementation document for the “Plan for Assisting States, Federal Agencies and Tribes in Managing Chronic Wasting Disease in Wild and Captive Cervids” has been submitted to Dr. Bobby Acord, Administrator of APHIS and Dr. Steve Williams, Director of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This document details the efforts needed by States, Tribes and Federal agencies in combating CWD. It assigns specific tasks and indicates budget needs.


Interim Findings on Cluster of Neurologic Diseases in Hunters


Interim Findings on Cluster of Neurologic Diseases in Hunters

(MADISON, September 12, 2002) – The Wisconsin Division of Public Health released information today on the status of an investigation into fatal cases of degenerative neurologic illnesses in three men who consumed wild game. The investigation, conducted by the Division of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was initiated after reports surfaced that rare neurologic diseases had occurred in three acquaintances who shared meals of wild game. The meals were served during multiple gatherings that were held in northwestern Wisconsin. The reports generated considerable public interest due to the concern that these illnesses might somehow be linked to chronic wasting disease (CWD) of deer and elk. The names of the three men have been previously released by the media.

Jeffrey Davis, MD, Wisconsin State Epidemiologist for Communicable Diseases, stressed that the investigation is still ongoing, but shared the following information.

The first component of the investigation is a re-examination of brain tissue collected from the patients during their autopsies. Two of the patients died in 1993 and the third died in 1999. Tissue samples from all three men were recently forwarded to the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Pathologists there are examining the tissue specimens for evidence of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and the presence of abnormal prion protein.

Test results from the National Prion Disease Surveillance Center are complete on one of the three sets of samples. Pathologists concluded that the samples from Roger Marten, whose death in 1993 was attributed to Pick’s disease, showed no evidence of CJD and did not contain any detectable prions.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is a fatal degenerative brain condition of humans caused by an abnormally-shaped protein called a prion. It occurs at a rate of about one case per million people throughout the world, and was first described in the 1920s. Chronic wasting disease in deer and elk is also caused by a prion and produces brain lesions similar to CJD in humans, but the deer CWD prion is not the same agent as the human CJD prion. The CWD prion has never been shown to cause human illness.

Public health investigators are also looking into the wild game feasts that took place from the late 1970s into the 1990s, and which were hosted by one of the deceased hunters. Based on information gathered to date, an estimated 75 people attended these gatherings over the years. Investigators have been able to contact 43 individuals so far who were questioned about their state of health to determine whether other cases of rare neurologic illnesses had occurred in this group. No such illnesses were discovered among these individuals. In an effort to determine whether the game that had been served had been harvested in areas where CWD is known to occur, attendees at the feasts were also asked about the sources of venison and elk meat that was brought to these events.

“Due to the long incubation period of CJD, the potential exposures of interest would have occurred in the late 1970s and early to mid- 1980s”, said Dr. Davis. “So we were particularly interested in where game had been harvested in the western states of Colorado and Wyoming, since CWD is known to have been endemic in those states for several decades.” Of the feast attendees who could recall where the game had been harvested, none have identified areas where CWD is known to have been present.

Although the investigation is ongoing, the findings to date are consistent with statements by the CDC and the World Health Organization that CWD has not been shown to be a human pathogen. As a precaution, health officials continue to advise that hunters process their venison in a safe manner and not ingest tissues where the CWD prion is known to concentrate. These include brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymph nodes and spleen. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has issued recommendations on processing deer. These can be found on their website at

© Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance

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.”