Raleigh, N.C. (September 9)—With more states reporting cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and national sporting magazines running full-length features on the topic, this disease of deer and elk is receiving more attention than ever. North Carolina hunters want to know—is our deer herd disease-free? Are we safe?

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission assures hunters that CWD has not been found in North Carolina. CWD is a neurological disease exclusive to deer, elk and related animals in the family Cervidae that causes unusual behavior, excessive weight loss and eventually death. There is no evidence that people can contract CWD.

For optimal safety, Wildlife Resources recommends people do not eat meat from an animal that appears sick, or any of the following animal organs: brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen and lymph nodes. Wildlife Resources also recommends hunters take sanitary precautions when dressing their deer or elk, particularly if hunting in a state with known cases of CWD in free-ranging animals (Wisconsin, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Saskatchewan). These precautions include wearing gloves when butchering, avoiding nervous system tissue as much as possible and thoroughly cooking meat.

Wildlife Resources will be monitoring North Carolina deer this fall for signs of CWD and testing animals when necessary. Deer with this disease often appear listless, lack coordination, have blank facial expressions, keep their heads lowered, walk in repetitive patterns, drool and grind their teeth and are extremely thin. Citizens can help by reporting deer with signs of CWD to Wildlife Resources at 1-800-662-7137.

For more information on CWD and hunting in North Carolina, Wildlife Resources has two publications, Chronic Wasting Disease and Chronic Wasting Disease—Information for the Hunting Public, which can be ordered by calling 919-733-7291.