Chronic Wasting Disease

What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?

CWD belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The specific cause of the disease is believed to be an abnormal prion (protein infectious particle) that is found in the brain, central nervous system and some lymphoid tissues of infected animals.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a rare, fatal, neurological disease found in the deer family (Cervides). It is a transmissible disease that slowly attacks the brain of infected deer, causing the animals to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and will result in the death of the infected animal.

CWD in New York State

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has received confirmation of CWD from two wild white-tailed deer sampled in central New York.The first positive result in a wild deer was announced on April 27, 2005 and came from a yearling white-tailed deer from the Town of Verona in Oneida County. The second, from a three year old doe, located within a mile of the location where the initial positive result was detected. These are the first known cases of CWD in wild deer in New York State.

Since CWD testing began in 2002, over 32,000 deer have been sampled statewide, including 7,300 deer directly from the Oneida/Madison County area. Despite intensive testing of wild white-tailed deer, there have been no additional cases detected in the New York since 2005.

In early April of 2005, through DAM (Department of Agriculture and Markets) testing of captive white-tailed deer herds in New York, CWD was detected in five deer from two captive herds in Oneida County. After it was discovered in these two captive herds, the DEC established a Containment Area around the CWD positive samples and with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program, implemented an intensive monitoring program on the local wild deer population.

This intensive monitoring was completed by the end of April, 2005, and resulted in 290 samples of wild deer from Oneida County, two from neighboring Madison County, and 25 wild deer from the Town of Arietta in Hamilton County (a possible transfer site of deer to one of the captive deer facilities). CWD was detected in two wild white-tailed deer collected during this intensive sampling effort.

How is CWD Transmitted?

Research indicates that infected deer transmit the disease through animal to animal contact, and feed or water sources contaminated with bodily excretions. The transmission may be enhanced when deer are congregated around man-made feed and water stations.

Is CWD Transmissible to Humans?

There is currently no evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans. There has been considerable and ongoing research done on this issue.

The Dept. of Environmental Conservation (CWD) Regulation Includes:

  • A Restriction on Importation of live Deer, Elk and Moose - The regulation prohibits the importation into New York State any wild or captive deer, elk or moose except under permit issued by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
  • A Restriction on Importation and Possession of Certain Animal Parts and Carcasses - New York is also restricting the importation of deer, elk and moose carcasses and parts from western states and provinces, and from any captive herds, as a further preventative measure to ensure that infectious prions are not brought into the state. The regulation imposes a restriction on the importation and possession of high risks tissues where CWD has been shown to be concentrated including the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils or spleen. For an explanation of what is allowed see CWD Regulations for Hunters.
  • A Restriction on the Liberation of Wild or Captive Deer, Elk and Moose - The regulation imposes a restriction on the liberation of the specified species of deer, elk and moose. An exception is made for wild white-tailed deer temporarily held under department license such as those under the care of a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator.
  • Transportation of Deer, Elk and Moose Carcasses and Parts through New York - An exemption allows travelers passing through New York to transport carcasses, provided no parts are disposed of or remain in New York State.
  • Reporting Requirements for Taxidermists that handle Deer, Elk or Moose - The regulation requires taxidermists to maintain and keep in their place of taxidermy, a log of all deer, elk, and moose specimens processed in the current year and previous two years.
  • A Restriction on Deer and Moose Feeding - The regulation also prohibits feeding of wild deer and wild moose under most circumstances as a further protective measure. This prohibition includes the use of substances that serve as an edible attractant, such as powdered or crystallized minerals. This regulation does not restrict the planting of food plots for wildlife or cutting browse for deer in the winter.

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