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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

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CWD Management Zone Special Season and Regulations

In response to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) being confirmed in Tennessee, TWRA has created a Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone (CMZ) for Fayette, Hardeman, and McNairy counties. Here are the new seasons, laws, rules, and regulations for the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone:  Map of current CWD positive area

  1. Any deer killed in Fayette, Hardman and McNairy counties must remain in the counties, except meat with all the bones removed, antlers with no tissue attached, tanned hides, cleaned teeth, and finished taxidermy products. (You can move a harvested deer within these three counties. You cannot remove a deer from these counties and move it to any other county unless it meets exportation requirements.
  2. Supplemental feeding is now banned in Fayette, Hardeman, and McNairy Counties. The placement of grain, salt products, minerals, and other consumable natural and manufactured products is prohibited. The ban does not apply to feed placed within 100 feet of any residence, feed placed in a manner not accessible to deer, or feed and minerals as the result of normal agricultural practices. Food plots are still legal in the CWD Zone.
  3. Starting December 29, 2018, all hunters killing deer in the CWD Zone on weekends are required to physically check in deer for testing at sampling and check stations within these counties. Location of Mandatory CWD Sampling Stations in High Risk Area Of CWD Management Zone
  4. A new hunting season has been created for Fayette, Hardeman, and McNairy Counties starting January 7 through January 31, 2019. The antlered bag limit is 1. There is not a limit on antlerless deer. A Type 94 permit is required to hunt antlerless deer during this season except for landowners hunting under the landowner exemption, Sportsman license holders (including Lifetime Sportsman), and hunters who possess a Type 167 permit. Even if you have already limited out with two antlered deer during the regular season, you are allowed to kill another antlered deer during the January 7- January 31 season.

CWD Public Meeting, Bolivar, TN January 8, 2019

Hunters in Fayette, Hardeman and McNairy Counties

Please continue hunting in these three counties, including during the new CWD Unit season from January 7-31, 2019. Additional details regarding this season will be posted on this page soon.

During weekends from December 29, 2018 through January 31,2019 all deer harvested in these three counties must be brought to a Mandatory CWD Sampling Station, locations are posted here. Agency staff will collect a sample then you may take your deer to a processor or butcher it yourself. Simply hold the meat until you determine test results (see above).

During weekdays (Mon- Fri), if you use a processor to butcher your deer, processors listed here in these three counties will collect a sample for us to test. Simply pick up your meat when it is processed, but hold the meat until you determine test results.

Checking test results for meat- We are in the process of developing a website for hunters to check their test results using their confirmation number. Note that if your sample is returned as a Positive we will call you immediately. Once activated, the lookup site will be available on this page.

We are working on a communicate piece for processors and, with the exception of collecting samples from us, expect their operations to continue as normal.
 

CWD Rules and Regulations

Affected CWD States

Tennessee’s Law On Importation Of Wildlife Carcasses, Parts, And Product

If you harvest a deer, elk or moose from anywhere outside the state, it must be properly processed before bringing it back into Tennessee.of Tennessee) 

No person may import, transport, or possess in Tennessee a cervid carcass or carcass part from anywhere outside state  except as  provided herein:

     (a) Meat that has bones removed.
     (b) Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls 
             (where no meat or tissues are attached to the skull.)
     (c) Cleaned teeth.
     (d) Finished taxidermy and antler products.
     (e) Hides (tanned or green) and tanned products.

What is CWD and What Animals are Affected?

CWD is a contagious and a fatal neurological disorder that affects members of the deer family known scientifically as cervids.  Import restrictions have been designed to protect these native herds.

In Tennessee cervids include deer and elk. Other states have deer and elk populations too, but some also have moose, mule deer and other big game cervids that sportsmen travel out of state to hunt.

It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment, and with contaminated feed or water sources.  

White-tailed deer are common in Tennessee, while a small population of elk can be found in the eastern portion of the state.  While CWD is considered 100 percent fatal once contracted, it is not known to harm humans or livestock.   

Watch our live Elk Cam!

Hunters Best Practices


There is no scientific evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans. However, as a general precaution, TWRA and health officials advise that hunters take the following common sense precautions when handling and processing deer or elk in areas known to have CWD:

  • Avoid sick animals. Do not shoot, handle, or consume any animal that appears sick; contact your local wildlife agency personnel.
  • Have your animal processed in the area in which it was harvested so high-risk parts can be disposed of properly.
  • Wear rubber/latex gloves when field dressing carcasses.
  • Minimize handling the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes of any deer or elk. Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.
  • Thoroughly wash hands, knives and other tools used to field dress the animal. Disinfect tools by soaking them in a solution of 50 percent unscented household bleach and 50 percent water for an hour. Allow them to air dry.
  • While transporting, store all portions of the animal in a container such as a cooler, bin, or bag that will not leak fluids into the environment.
  • In the CWD Zone, have your animal tested and do not consume animals that test positive for CWD.

Videos on how to cape and debone your deer 

Cleaning Teeth & Skull

Deboning Your Harvest 

Courtesy of Arkansas Game & Fish

Caping Your Harvest

Public Health Concerns, a Note to All Tennesseans:

The Center For Disease Control (CDC) Recommends: (https://www.cdc.gov/prions/cwd/prevention.html)

To be as safe as possible and decrease their potential risk of exposure to CWD, hunters should take the following steps when hunting in areas with CWD:

  • Please report deer and elk that look sick, are acting strangely or are found dead.  Contact your regional office with this information.
  • When field-dressing a deer:
    • Wear latex or rubber gloves when dressing the animal or handling the meat.
    • Minimize how much you handle the organs of the animal, particularly the brain or spinal cord tissues.
    • Do not use household knives or other kitchen utensils for field dressing.
  • If you have your deer or elk commercially processed, consider asking that your animal be processed individually to avoid mixing meat from multiple animals.
  • If your animal tests positive for CWD, do not eat meat from that animal.

Please understand that CWD poses the largest threat to Tennessee’s deer and elk populations since the dawn of wildlife management more than 100 years ago.

If you are a hunter, please watch the videos on this page about how to properly return to Tennessee with carcasses taken from outside Tennessee. Please know and understand Tennessee's importation restrictions.

Educational Links

Our Friends At TN Wildlife Federation Understand The Impact Of CWD

The state’s largest sportsman’s group is the Tennessee Wildlife Federation. This is an organization that TWRA has worked with on numerous projects through many years.

Like our agency, the TWF is extremely concerned about Chronic Wasting Disease. Please visit TWF’s page about CWD to learn more from the sportsman’s point of view concerning the perils of this deadly disease:

https://tnwf.org/keep-tennessee-cwd-free/

States with CWD

CWD Confirmed Positive States