Hunters can assist the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s surveillance efforts for chronic wasting disease (CWD) this hunting season by submitting the heads of their deer or elk for testing. The department’s goal is to test 1,600 heads this season.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that is fatal to deer and elk. There is no scientific evidence to show that the disease affects humans. Although CWD has not yet been found in Arizona, it has been detected in three bordering states: Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.

“Over the last several years the Arizona Game and Fish Department has taken steps to try to keep CWD out of our state and has plans in place to deal with the disease if it arrives,” says Jim deVos, research branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “Aggressive monitoring and testing are essential. The earlier CWD can be detected, the sooner we’ll be able to launch efforts to prevent the spread of the disease to other deer and elk.”

Hunters can bring the head of their recently harvested deer or elk to any Game and Fish Department office between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Place the head in a plastic garbage bag for delivery, and keep it cool and out of the sun if possible.

To better assist the surveillance efforts, you will be asked to fill out a form when you drop off your deer or elk head. Please include the following information: county and game management unit in which the animal was harvested, hunt number and permit number, and a phone number where you can be reached. Note: If this information is not provided, the department will be unable to test the head.

You will be notified of CWD test results by postcard within six to eight weeks. There is no charge to you for the testing and notification.

Although no evidence exists of CWD affecting humans, hunters are advised to avoid harvesting any animal that appears sick, and avoid consuming or handling any brain or spinal tissue.

Hunters are also asked to be observant in the field. If you see a deer or elk displaying symptoms of CWD, such as low weight, stumbling gait, drooping ears, rough hair condition, visible salivation, excessive thirst, or loss of fear of humans, please contact the Game and Fish Department at (800) 352-0700.

In order to minimize the chance of the disease entering Arizona through the transport of infected animal tissues, hunters are also asked to take precautions when bringing harvested deer or elk into Arizona from another state. For a list of guidelines, or to learn more about CWD, visit azgfd.gov/cwd.