Deer and elk hunters hunt for a variety of reasons. Harvesting meat is an obvious one. But most hunters are also inspired by enjoying recreation, being close to nature and spending time with family and friends. All are valuable components of good hunting.

Whatever your motivations for going afield, take time now to learn about chronic wasting disease (CWD) and whether it may influence your expectations for this fall’s hunt.

The disease, which affects deer and elk in certain areas of the country, has been extensively covered in the media. Unfortunately, misinformation persists. An accurate and reliable source of information is the Web site of the CWD Alliance, a collaborative project to help hunters learn more about the disease, at www.cwd-info.org.

According to information posted at the site, neither public health agencies nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found any evidence suggesting that CWD is transmissible to humans. The disease is still being studied. Until scientists thoroughly understand CWD, hunters should be prudent when handling game from areas where the disease has been identified. Don’t harvest animals that look sick. Avoid handling body parts where the disease agent concentrates—lymph nodes, spinal cord, and brain. Hunters can have their animal tested for CWD and should avoid eating meat from any animal that tests positive.

The CWD Alliance is distributing a new video showing field dressing and meat processing techniques. Produced by American Outdoor Productions, the DVD-format video explores the realities of the disease and how hunters can continue to enjoy their time afield. “Shedding Light on Chronic Wasting Disease” may be ordered through the CWD Alliance website. The cost is $9.95 plus $2.00 shipping/handling.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms industry, is one of many partners supporting the CWD Alliance.