CWD regulations in Texas

Due to the regular amending of regulations in Texas, it is recommended that before hunting you check these CWD regulations, as well as those of any other states or provinces in which you will be hunting or traveling through while transporting cervid carcasses. The contact information for Texas can be seen below:

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Testing Laboratories in Texas

Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
Texas A & M University 1 Sippel Rd. College Station, TX 77843
979-845-3414 or 888-646-5623

Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
Texas A & M University 6610 Amarillo Blvd West Amarillo, TX 79106

Locations Where CWD Was Found

Counties (Accurate as of 3/2018)

1. Dallam 2. El Paso 3. Hudspeth 4. Hartley 5. Lavaca 6. Medina 7. Uvalde 

Most Recent CWD News

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  • Action Taken in Response to Disease Discovery in Roadkill Whitetail Deer AUSTIN – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved expansion of the state’s chronic wasting disease (CWD) Panhandle Containment Zone following the discovery of the disease earlier this year in a roadkill white-tailed deer.
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  • AUSTIN – Two new cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Texas captive deer, including the first confirmed from a live test tonsillar biopsy sample, have been validated. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are conducting an epidemiological investigation

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  • AUSTIN – A free-ranging mule deer buck, harvested in Hartley County, has been confirmed positive for CWD. State officials received confirmation today from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.

    Hartley County is located in the Texas Panhandle immediately to the south of Dalhart

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  • AUSTIN – A 3 1/2-year-old captive raised white-tailed buck harvested in early January by a hunter from a release site on a ranch in Medina and Uvalde counties has been confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The deer’s origin has been identified as an onsite

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  • SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- A fourth case of chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in deer in South Texas.

    The San Antonio Express-News reported Friday that the latest infected deer was raised in Medina County at the same ranch as the other three animals. That's prompted

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  • AUSTIN – A two-year-old white-tailed deer in a Medina County deer breeding facility has been confirmed positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This is the first case of CWD detected in captive white-tailed deer in Texas. CWD was first detected in Texas in 2012 in free-ranging

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Category Archives: Texas

New Chronic Wasting Disease Surveillance Regulations Proposed for Free-Ranging and Captive Elk in Texas

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal, degenerative brain wasting of elk, white-tailed and mule deer, has not been detected in Texas, but maintaining surveillance for the condition is essential for animal disease response and trade purposes. The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state’s livestock and poultry health regulatory agency, has proposed new regulations to ensure adequate CWD surveillance of captive and free-ranging elk moved within the state. The TAHC will accept comments on the proposed elk rules through November 9, and the TAHC commissioners will consider the rules for adoption at their December 8 meeting in Austin.

“White-tailed deer and other deer species have been under existing CWD surveillance programs through the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the TAHC,” said Dr. Bob Hillman, Texas’ state veterinarian and TAHC executive director. “The TAHC also offers voluntary CWD herd status programs for captive deer and elk to qualify the animals to be moved to other states. Furthermore, the TAHC has had importation rules in place for several years.”

“Elk are not considered to be native to Texas, and although they are under the regulatory umbrella of the TAHC as exotic hoof stock, we did not have legal authority to require CWD testing of this species until House Bill 3330 went into effect September 1,” said Dr. Hillman. The newly enacted legislation not only provides the needed authority, but also sets a Class C misdemeanor penalty for noncompliance. “We have worked closely with an elk industry task force, to develop a CWD program for elk being moved within the state. This will not only provide the disease surveillance we need, but it will also assure the health and marketability of these magnificent animals.”

“The TAHC commissioners, at their September meeting, proposed the regulations that contain the four components necessary for adequate CWD surveillance of elk being transported from their premises: authority to conduct inspections of facilities, animals and records when necessary; movement record keeping; animal identification; and testing. If adopted, the proposed elk regulations would replace existing TAHC rules that are limited only to record keeping and the identification.”

The proposed CWD elk regulations:

  • Distinguish captive elk as those contained behind a fence at least seven feet high and free-ranging elk as those without the confines of a high fence.
  • Require that any elk being moved or transported within the state have a visible, official identification device (ear tag) approved by the TAHC.
  • Specify the content of reports that are to be completed and submitted to the TAHC within 48 hours of moving elk. Buyers and sellers of elk are to maintain records of elk movement for at least five years, and the TAHC is to be allowed access to ranch facilities and records when necessary for disease surveillance.
  • Set the number of CWD tests that are required prior to moving elk from a herd.

The statistical test numbers are based on whether the elk are free-ranging or captive, and the number of animals being moved. In free-ranging elk herds, an average of one elk must be tested for every 10 moved. For captive elk herds, the testing rate is higher; one elk is to be tested for every five moved.

Under the TAHC’s proposed regulations, elk would be test-eligible at 16 months of age or older, and tests conducted in a herd would be valid for a year. Animals tested must be euthanized or harvested, allowing for the collection of brain tissue for laboratory examination.

“The captive elk herd testing is at a higher rate, as these animals are usually maintained in closer confines for long periods of time, creating a greater risk of transmission, if disease is present. CWD is manifested in infected mature deer and elk, and as the degenerative disease progresses, the animals may stagger, drop weight, lose bodily functions, grind their teeth, and salivate excessively,” said Dr. Hillman. “Because captive elk are sold and traded commercially, we also want to maintain the highest credibility for this industry, assuring high health standards.”

“Some groups of elk will be exempt from the CWD herd testing,” explained Dr. Hillman. “No testing of the herd is necessary if elk are being moved directly from the premises (farm or ranch) to a state- or federally inspected slaughter plant. Tissues can be collected for laboratory submission at the slaughter plant.”

Also exempt from testing are captive elk herds that have “Level A” status (one year) in the TAHC’s voluntary CWD monitored herd program. Owners of enrolled herds maintain annual inventories, identify animals individually, and ensure that testing is conducted when death losses occur in animals 16 months of age or older.

“Although we have not detected CWD in deer or elk in Texas, we must remain vigilant and prepared to address the disease,” said Dr. Hillman. TAHC regulations are in effect to address a CWD-infected deer or elk herd. Actions would include, but not be limited to long-term quarantine, epidemiological investigation of animals moved into and from the herd, and the humane euthanasia and testing of suspicious and high-risk animals,” said Dr. Hillman.

Comments on the TAHC’s proposed regulations must be submitted in writing by emailing, or by mailing them to: TAHC Comments, Box 12966, Austin, Texas 78711-2966. Comments must be received by November 9. Copies of the text of the proposed regulation may be obtained on the TAHC web site. To have a copy faxed or mailed, call the TAHC at 800-550-8242, ext 710.

CWD was first recognized in 1967 in a research facility with captive wild deer in Colorado. Since then, the disease has also been detected in free-ranging elk in Colorado, in free-ranging deer and elk in Wyoming, South Dakota and New Mexico, and in free-ranging deer in Utah, Wisconsin, Illinois, West Virginia and New York. In Colorado and Wyoming, infected moose also have been found.

CWD-infected captive elk herds have been detected and depopulated in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Infected captive deer herds have been depopulated in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and in Michigan and New York. As of March 2009, the USDA reported that infected captive elk herds existed in Colorado and Minnesota. A captive deer herd was under quarantine in Wisconsin.

Dr. Hillman said researchers believe CWD is transmitted when infected elk or deer are in close contact with others, or when their bodily wastes containing the disease-causing abnormal proteins, or “prions” contaminate feed or water. Once susceptible animals are exposed, deteriorative changes occur in the animal’s brain, eventually causing death.

“Hunters should always avoid sick, staggering or strange-acting animals,” said Dr. Hillman. “A number of diseases, including rabies, could cause erratic behavior. To date, there has been no evidence of spread of CWD to humans, but hunters should always take precautions when processing wild animals. Wear gloves, goggles and cover the nose and mouth to avoid blood splatter in wounds or the face. Wash thoroughly after handling an animal carcass. Make reports about staggering or erratic animals to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or the Texas Animal Health Commission.”

Feeding of Wildlife Banned In Texas State Parks

AUSTIN, Texas – Following the lead of other states and America’s national parks, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted Thursday to amend state code to prohibit visitors from feeding wildlife in Texas State Parks.

The proposed state park operational rule change, which was published for public comment in the Texas Register in December and received only six comments — four against the proposal — is expected take effect in March in all 120 state parks.

Walt Dabney, Texas State Parks Director, told commissioners the feeding ban addresses a very real human health and safety issue and follows the lead of America’s national parks and most park systems. He pointed out that the feeding of wild animals in state park campgrounds perpetuates habitat degradation, can lead to an unnatural and unhealthy increase in animal population levels, and increases the possibility of the transmission of diseases and of humans or pets being injured or killed by wildlife.

“When wild animals begin associating humans with food, they don’t become less wild; they lose their inherent fear of humans. Thus, with animals and humans in close proximity, increased chances of wildlife biting, charging, goring, or kicking visitors becomes a real possibility. Having wild animals living in an unnatural environment where they are being fed is not what we want,” Dabney said.

Dabney cited two close calls that could have been “horrible” for park visitors because of an aggressive javelina at Choke Canyon and aggressive feral hog at Fairfield Lake State Park. Park personnel, he said, were forced to shoot the hog and the javelina which were endangering campers.

“Our knowing about these incidents and allowing it (feeding) to continue is a tragedy waiting to happen,” Dabney said. “In some parks, we were allowing people to feed them corn and even selling the feed. By continuing to allow feeding of wildlife in state parks, we would be knowingly allowing a dangerous situation to occur.

State park law enforcement officers and game wardens will have the authority to enforce the feeding ban rule and could charge flagrant offenders with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by as much as a $500 fine. However, Dabney said the emphasis would be on educating park visitors about the rule change through posted signs and issuing warnings to first-time violators and other measures. Only in the most serious situations, according to Dabney, would violators be issued a citation.

The new rule, which applies to wildlife feeding only in state parks, is not meant to prohibit “reasonable things, like having bird feeders that are designed to keep out other animals” placed in designated wildlife viewing areas, the state parks director said. He said park managers may allow, on a case-by-case basis, bird feeders that do not allow other wildlife to access the feed. Park managers may also allow feeding outside of campgrounds or other developed areas to bring wildlife to observation or photography blinds in controlled situations that don’t cause animals to associate humans with feeding.

“We’re not trying to discourage one of the most enjoyable activities in our state parks – the viewing of the wild animals – but it’s not acceptable to have these animals bedded down in our campsites or rummaging through coolers,” Dabney said.

With the approved amendment, the “wildlife” section of the Rules of Conduct in State Parks now states that it is an offense to: “feed or offer food to any wildlife or exotic wildlife, or to leave food unsecured in a manner that makes the food available to wildlife or exotic wildlife, unless specifically authorized by the department. The feeding of birds may be permitted on a park-by-park basis as prescribed by the department.”

CWD Tests Are Negative So Far

After testing more than 530 white-tailed deer for Chronic Wasting Disease in Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife said all the tests have been negative.

“We’re feeling pretty good about that,” said Executive Director Robert L. Cook. Nearly three times that many deer have been collected for testing, Cook said.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal brain infection that causes deer to become disoriented, quit feeding and eventually starve to death. It was first identified about 40 years ago in Colorado.

TPWD Wildlife Division staff said early last year they feared that CWD could have been imported into Texas in deer bound for private breeding programs. All imports were stopped for a time while the department worked with the Texas Animal Health Commission to develop a testing procedure.

The tests will continue as the department tries to test as many as 2,000 whitetails per year for several years to determine whether the disease actually is active in Texas.

TPWD Lifts Deer Importation Ban, Imposes CWD Testing

AUSTIN, Texas – Confident that sufficient safeguards are in place to minimize the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) entering the state, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted here Thursday, Nov. 7, to rescind its eight-month-long ban on the importation of white-tailed deer. The board also adopted new rules to ensure adequate monitoring and testing for CWD among deer prior to permitting any intrastate movement under the Trap, Transport and Transplant program.

“We believe vigilance and early detection are crucial to minimizing the biological and economic impacts of an outbreak, should one occur in Texas,” said Robert L. Cook, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “At present, the Texas Animal Health Commission’s entry requirements are sufficient to manage the importation issue. Therefore, the department proposes to lift the temporary suspension on importation of deer.”

TPWD regulates the importation of white-tailed and mule deer through its Scientific Breeder Permit program. The TPWD Commission action incorporates TAHC entry requirements into the Scientific Breeder Permit program, meaning deer imported from other states must originate from herds enrolled in an official CWD monitoring program for at least three years. In states where the disease has been detected, the required monitoring period is extended to five years.

In addition to lifting the import ban, the commission approved a process for testing for CWD in deer herds prior to granting a Trap, Transport and Transplant (Triple T) Permit for moving deer within the state. Applicants will be required to have test results from a number of deer that would be an equivalent to 10 percent of the number of deer to be trapped, and the number must be between 10-40 deer that show no positive tests for CWD before the state agency will consider issuing a Triple T permit. Permittees will also be required to permanently tattoo all moved deer with an identification number, and deer temporarily relocated for nursing or veterinary purposes may not leave the state for those purposes.

“The emergence of chronic wasting disease in both captive and free-ranging deer populations in other states is cause for concern due to the potential threat to wild deer and elk populations in Texas,” said Jerry Cooke, TPWD game branch chief. “The measures adopted by the commission are only a part of the picture. We’ve also begun testing deer harvested during public hunts on wildlife management areas and state parks and have developed a managed response in the event CWD is found in Texas

Hunters Concerned About CWD Should Use Common Sense

AUSTIN, Texas — While state officials take steps to assess the potential risks to Texas’ deer population from Chronic Wasting Disease, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is urging hunters to use common sense during the upcoming hunting season.

CWD is a fatal brain disease that can infect deer and elk that has been found in 10 states and two Canadian provinces. There is still no evidence that CWD is in Texas, according to Robert L. Cook, TPWD executive director.

Texas continues to take steps to reduce the potential risks of CWD, including the suspension of white-tailed deer and elk importation into the state earlier this year and development of a management plan to address this disease.

The Texas Animal Health Commission has established stringent entry requirements for bringing captive elk and black-tailed deer into Texas and a voluntary monitoring program for scientific deer breeders.

This fall, TPWD will implement a statewide testing program to actively look for CWD, including sampling white-tailed deer harvested during special drawing public hunts on state park lands and wildlife management areas

CWD is in the family of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The disease is found in infected animals’ neural tissues such as brains and spinal cords, as well as eyes and lymph nodes. The TSE in domestic sheep is called scrapie, and in cattle it’s bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Similar diseases in humans include Creuzfeldt-Jacobs Disease and its new variant, kuru, and fatal familial insomnia. CWD should not be confused with BSE, scrapie or CJD.

The World Health Organization has said there is no scientific evidence CWD can infect humans. (After more than 16 years of monitoring in the affected area in Colorado, no disease has been detected in people or cattle living there.) However, the WHO also says no people or animals should consume any part of potentially CWD-infected deer or elk.

“Just use common sense,” advised Gary Graham, Ph.D., and Wildlife Division Director. “If a deer looks sick, don’t shoot it or eat it.”

Hunters are advised to wear latex gloves when field dressing game, to de-bone all meat and avoid consuming any neural tissue, such as brain or spinal cords of animals.

“If a hunter is concerned about CWD, I suggest they visit with their veterinarian,” offered Jerry Cooke, Ph.D., and TPWD game branch chief. “A vet can explain what this disease is and what it isn’t. After that, if they want to have their harvested deer tested, their veterinarian can help. The test costs about $37.”

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