MDC reminds deer hunters to get harvested deer sampled for CWD

Joe Jerek
Joe.Jerek@mdc.mo.gov
Missouri Department of Conservation designates counties (shown in orange) within 10 miles of where a positive case of CWD has been found as part of its CWD Management Zone.

With deer hunting in Missouri opening for archery season on Sept. 15 and for firearms portions in the coming months, the Missouri Department of Conservation wants hunters to know key information about chronic wasting disease. 

MDC will be holding mandatory CWD sampling during opening weekend of firearms season and voluntary CWD sampling all season for hunters who harvest deer in MDC CWD Management Zone counties.

CWD is a deadly, infectious disease in deer and other members of the deer family (cervids) that eventually kills all animals it infects. There is no vaccine or cure. 

CWD is spread from deer to deer and through the environment. CWD was first detected in Missouri’s free-ranging deer population in 2012 and has since been found in 18 counties. 

The disease remains relatively rare in the state, being detected in 206 deer out of more than 152,300 tested by MDC since 2012. 

MDC is working hard to keep it that way, and hunters play a critical role in helping MDC manage the disease by having their deer tested and following the carcass-movement restrictions. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.

CWD Management Zone

MDC designates counties within 10 miles of where a positive case of CWD has been found as part of its CWD Management Zone. 

The CWD Management Zone counties are: Adair, Barry, Camden, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Laclede, Linn, Macon, McDonald, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington. Camden, Laclede, McDonald and Pulaski counties were added to the CWD Management Zone this year.

Related CWD regulations prohibit the placement of feed or minerals for deer in counties of the CWD Management Zone. For exceptions, see the 2021 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online at mdc.mo.gov/about-us/about-regulations/fall-deer-turkey-hunting-regulations-information.

Voluntary CWD Sampling All Season Statewide

MDC will again offer statewide voluntary CWD sampling and testing of harvested deer during the entire deer season at select locations throughout the state. Locations include select MDC offices during regular business hours, cooperating taxidermists and meat processors (hours vary), and self-service freezers where hunters can leave deer heads for sampling and testing.

Hunters can get their CWD test results for free online at mdc.mo.gov/cwdResults. Results are usually available within three weeks or less from the time of sampling. Find locations and more information online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd or by contacting an MDC regional office at mdc.mo.gov/contact-engage/regional-mdc-offices.

Mandatory CWD Sampling Nov. 13 and 14

Hunters who harvest deer in any counties in the CWD Management Zone during opening weekend of the November portion of firearms deer season (Nov. 13 and 14) are required to take their harvested deer or the head on the day of harvest to one of MDC’s numerous CWD mandatory sampling stations located throughout the zone. Sampling and test results are free.

Hunters must present their deer to a CWD mandatory sampling station within the county of harvest, with a few exceptions. 

Deer that will end up being delivered to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 48 hours, or deer heads that will be left at the MDC CWD mandatory sampling station for disposal after sampling, may be transported to a sampling station in any county.

Find CWD mandatory sampling station locations online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd or from MDC’s 2021 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet.

CWD sampling takes only a few minutes and consists of MDC staff cutting an incision across the throat of harvested deer to remove lymph nodes for testing. Tissue samples are sent to an independent lab for testing. Hunters will be given a card with information on getting free test results for their deer after samples are processed. Hunters can get their CWD test results for free online at mdc.mo.gov/cwdResults. Results are usually available within three weeks or less from the time of sampling.

Hunters presenting bucks bound for taxidermy should inform MDC staff. Staff will complete paperwork and inform the hunters about participating taxidermists taking CWD tissue samples. The cape may also be removed from the animal prior to being taken to a sampling station.

Before arriving at a CWD mandatory sampling station:

• Field dress and Telecheck deer.

• Bring the carcass or just the head.

• Capes may be removed in preparation for taxidermy.

• Position deer in vehicles with head and neck easily accessible.

• Be sure the person who harvested the deer is present.

• Have the hunter’s conservation ID number ready.

• Be prepared to find the location of harvest on a map.

• If using a paper permit, have it detached from the deer for easy access.

• If using the MO Hunting app, have permit and Telecheck information available.

Mandatory CWD sampling dramatically increases the number of tissue samples MDC can collect in a brief period of time. The increased number of samples gives MDC scientists a much better understanding of the distribution and prevalence of the disease — where it is and how many deer may have it. It can also help find new cases in new areas.

Opening weekend of the firearms deer season is the most popular two hunting days for most deer hunters. Hunters take about a third of the state’s total annual deer harvest during those two days. Focusing on this key weekend gives MDC the best opportunity to collect the most tissue samples during a very concentrated time period.

Carcass Movement Restrictions

Hunters must follow carcass-movement restrictions for deer harvested in a CWD Management Zone county and when bringing parts of harvested deer and other cervids into Missouri from another state.

For hunters who harvest deer in Missouri from a CWD Management Zone county:

• Deer must be Telechecked before any parts of the carcass may be transported out of the county of harvest.

• Whole carcasses and heads may only be transported out of the county of harvest if delivered to a licensed meat processor, taxidermist, or to an approved CWD sampling station within 48 hours of exiting the county of harvest. On Nov. 13-14, deer must be taken on the day of harvest to a CWD mandatory sampling station.

• The following carcass parts may be moved outside of the county of harvest without restriction:

• Meat that is cut and wrapped or that has been boned out.

• Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.

• Hides from which all excess tissue has been removed.

• Antlers or antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue.

• Finished taxidermy products.

For hunters bringing harvested deer and other cervids into Missouri from another state:

• Hunters may no longer transport whole cervid carcasses into the state.

• Heads from cervids with the cape attached and no more than six inches of neck attached may be brought into Missouri only if they are delivered to a licensed taxidermist within 48 hours of entering Missouri.

• There is no longer a requirement that cervid carcass parts coming into the state be reported to the MDC carcass transport hotline.

• The following cervid parts can be transported into Missouri without restriction:

• Meat that is cut and wrapped or that has been boned out.

• Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.

• Hides from which all excess tissue has been removed.

• Antlers or antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue.

• Upper canine teeth.

• Finished taxidermy products.

Share the Harvest

MDC encourages deer hunters to share their harvest. Missouri’s Share the Harvest program helps deer hunters donate venison to those in need. 

To participate, take harvested deer to an approved meat processor and let the processor know how much venison is to be donated. 

Deer harvested within the CWD Management Zone may only be donated to approved processors in the Share the Harvest CWD Testing Program. Deer harvested outside of the CWD Management Zone may be donated to any Share the Harvest processor. Learn more online at mdc.mo.gov/share or from MDC’s 2021 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet.

More Information

Get more information on CWD regulations and other CWD information online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd or from MDC’s 2021 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online at mdc.mo.gov/about-us/about-regulations/fall-deer-turkey-hunting-regulations-information.