The Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters heading out of state to enjoy their sport, and to be aware that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been found in free ranging and captive deer or elk populations in 14 states and two Canadian provinces.
Chronic wasting disease has been diagnosed in captive elk or deer in nine states including Colorado, Montana, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, New York and in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. It has been confirmed in wild deer in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Mexico and West Virginia.
Scientists believe that CWD is caused by an abnormally shaped, infectious protein called a prion. CWD causes damage to the brain and central nervous system of mule deer, rocky mountain elk, moose and white-tailed deer. Symptoms include loss of body condition and altered behavior; however, the disease can only be effectively diagnosed through examination of a portion of the brain.
In 2002, in order to reduce the risk of chronic wasting disease entering New Jersey, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) imposed an emergency ban on the importation of deer and elk into the state. The DEP, NJ Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to prevent the spread of CWD to New Jersey, and will respond quickly to contain CWD should it be found within the state.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife has had a surveillance program for Chronic Wasting Disease in place since 1998, and has also put together an emergency response team should the disease appear in the Garden State. Hunters can help keep CWD out of New Jersey by being conscious of their actions and following some simple rules.
- Do not shoot, handle or consume any deer that appears to be sick.
- Follow the rules of the state or province you are hunting in and bone out the meat being sure to remove the brain, spinal cord and lymph nodes, which may harbor the prions.
- Wash skull plates of residual brain tissue and soak in 30% bleach solution for 15 minutes to destroy any potential prions.
- Dispose of deer carcasses with meat removed in the trash. Do not discard in areas where deer may come into contact with the remains.
- Wear rubber or latex gloves when field dressing carcasses.
Notify the wildlife agency in the state or province you are hunting in if you see an animal that appears sick. Extensive information on Chronic Wasting Disease is posted on the Division’s Web site at www.njfishandwildlife.com/cwdinfo.htm. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with this information and do your part to help keep New Jersey free from Chronic Wasting Disease.