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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

With Chronic Wasting Disease occurring in Tennessee, the TWRA has established the goal of keeping CWD from spreading, keeping the number of diseased deer in the affected area to a minimum, and reducing disease rates where possible. To achieve that goal, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established a CWD (chronic wasting disease) Unit with specific regulations to achieve our goals that are science-based and data-driven.


---For Immediate Release: May 30, 2019

NEW CWD UNIT HUNTING REGULATIONS ESTABLISHED TO AID IN EFFORTS FOR DISEASE MANAGEMENT

NASHVILLE --- With Chronic Wasting Disease occurring in Tennessee, the TWRA has established the goal of keeping CWD from spreading, keeping the number of diseased deer in the affected area to a minimum, and reducing disease rates where possible. To achieve that goal, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established a CWD (chronic wasting disease) Unit with specific regulations to achieve our goals that are science-based and data-driven.

The aim of Unit CWD hunting regulations is to increase the deer harvest by empowering hunters to harvest more while targeting high-risk deer and allowing the agency to sample more deer to better understand the disease. Data collected to date indicates that bucks are twice as likely as does to have CWD. Older bucks are three times more likely to have CWD than younger bucks. Other research proves that bucks have a much larger home range so the likelihood of bucks transporting CWD to new areas is higher. For all these reasons, the harvest of bucks will help the most with accomplishing these goals; however the harvest of does is also very important since they can spread the disease as well. 

The following hunting regulation changes were made to Unit CWD counties to accomplish the above-stated objectives:

•      Earn-A-Buck

–     Tennessee’s antlered deer bag limit (2) did not change; therefore it still applies to hunters hunting Unit CWD as well as the rest of the state.

–     Only hunters hunting in Unit CWD counties may earn additional bucks.

–     Unit CWD hunters may earn up to two bucks for harvest, in addition to the statewide antler deer bag limit of two.

–     Earned bucks are received by harvesting two Unit CWD antlerless deer, checking them in, submitting them for CWD testing, and being notified by TWRA.

–     Earn-A-Buck will increase the number of deer (does and bucks) harvested and the numbers of deer tested for CWD.

·         Replacement Bucks

–     Unit CWD hunters will receive a replacement buck if they harvest a CWD-positive buck and the lab result is confirmed by TWRA.  

–     There is no limit on the number of replacement bucks.

–     Replacement bucks will encourage hunters to continue hunting and harvesting and be an added incentive for hunters to have their deer tested for CWD.

•      The August 3-day hunt now allows the use of muzzleloaders, in addition to archery, and applies to most public lands, including:

- Meeman-Shelby State Park and State Natural Area
- Eagle Lake Refuge
- Wolf River Wildlife Management Area and Ghost River State Natural Area
- Chickasaw State Forest Wildlife Management Area
- Gray’s Creek Wildlife Management Area
- Oak Dain Portion of Whiteville Lake State Fishing Area
- Big Hill Pond State Park
- Tull Bottom Wildlife Management Area
- South Fork Refuge
- Spring Creek Wildlife Management Area
- Colonial Forest V Durand Wildlife Management Area
- Fort Ridge Wildlife Management Area
- Lower Hatcher National Wildlife Refuge (Tipton Co. portion only)
- EXCLUDED:

- Shelby County 
- Presidents Island Wildlife Management Area 
- Shelby Farms Park – NO HUNTING (Shelby County Government)
- T.O. Fuller State Park – NO HUNTING
- Lucas E. Burch Jr State Natural Area – NO HUNTING (local government)
- Riverwoods State Natural Area – NO HUNTING (local government)

- Hardeman County
- Davis Bridge Battlefield State Park – NO HUNTING (National Park Service)
- Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge

- Haywood County
- Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge

- Chester County
- Chickasaw State Park – NO HUNTING

- Madison County
- Pinson Mounds State Archeological Park – NO HUNTING
- Middle Fork Wetland – NO HUNTING

•      Muzzleloader season will begin on October 28th in Unit CWD

•      Gun season will begin November 9th in Unit CWD

•      Antlered harvest allowed during the January 5-day private lands hunt (traditionally antlerless only)

•      Mandatory physical check stations on Nov. 2-3 and Nov. 9-10 for Unit CWD counties except Hardeman and Fayette.

The CWD hunting regulations only apply to CWD positive counties of Fayette, Hardeman, and Madison and CWD high-risk counties of Chester, Haywood, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton. Carcass export and wildlife feeding restrictions remain in place for Unit CWD.

---TWRA---

 


CWD Email Updates

Tennessee CWD Positives Map
CWD Positive Deer Status Map

CWD Rules and Regulations

  • No deer may be transported out of Unit CWD without being processed.
  • Earn-A-Buck
    •  Tennessee’s antlered deer bag limit (2) did not change; therefore it still applies to hunters hunting Unit CWD as well as the rest of the state.
    • Only hunters hunting in Unit CWD counties may earn additional bucks.
    • Unit CWD hunters may earn up to two bucks for harvest, in addition to the statewide antler deer bag limit of two.  
    • Earned bucks are received by harvesting two Unit CWD antlerless deer, checking them in, submitting them for CWD testing, and being notified by TWRA. 
    • Earn-A-Buck will increase the number of deer (does and bucks) harvested and the numbers of deer tested for CWD.
  • Replacement Bucks 
    • Unit CWD hunters will receive a replacement buck if they harvest a CWD-positive buck and the lab result is confirmed by TWRA.  
    • There is no limit on the number of replacement bucks.
    • Replacement bucks will encourage hunters to continue hunting and harvesting and be an added incentive for hunters to have their deer tested for CWD.  
  • The August 3-day hunt now allows the use of muzzleloaders, in addition to archery, and applies to most public lands, including:
    • Meeman-Shelby State Park and State Natural Area
    • Eagle Lake Refuge
    • Wolf River Wildlife Management Area and Ghost River State Natural Area
    • Chickasaw State Forest Wildlife Management Area
    • Gray’s Creek Wildlife Management Area
    • Oak Dain Portion of Whiteville Lake State Fishing Area
    • Big Hill Pond State Park
    •  Tull Bottom Wildlife Management Area
    • South Fork Refuge
    • Spring Creek Wildlife Management Area
    • Colonial Forest V Durand Wildlife Management Area
    • Fort Ridge Wildlife Management Area
    • Lower Hatcher National Wildlife Refuge (Tipton Co. portion only)
    • - EXCLUDED:
      • Shelby County
        • Presidents Island Wildlife Management Area 
        • Shelby Farms Park – NO HUNTING (Shelby County Government)
        • T.O. Fuller State Park – NO HUNTING 
        • Lucas E. Burch Jr State Natural Area – NO HUNTING (local government)
        • Riverwoods State Natural Area – NO HUNTING (local government)
      • Hardeman County
        • Davis Bridge Battlefield State Park – NO HUNTING (National Park Service)
        • Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge
      • Haywood County
        • Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge
      • Chester County
        • Chickasaw State Park – NO HUNTING
      • Madison County
      • Pinson Mounds State Archeological Park – NO HUNTING 
      • Middle Fork Wetland – NO HUNTING 
  • Gun season will begin November 9th in Unit CWD .
  • Antlered harvest allowed during the January 5-day private lands hunt (traditionally antlerless only).
  • Mandatory physical check stations on Nov. 2-3 and Nov. 9-10 for Unit CWD counties except Hardeman and Fayette.
Deer ATA logo

The use or possession of natural cervid urine while hunting is restricted. A new regulation requires the use of synthetic urine or products with the Archery Trade Association’s seal of approval. 

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.

CWD in TN Informational Video

CWD Public Meeting, Fayette Co., April 9, 2019

Testing outside Unit CWD 

If you wish to test your deer and are not located within Unit CWD, you have several options.

You can bring the deer to a freezer dropoff location within Unit CWD and TWRA will sample your deer.

If that is not feasible and you still want to test your deer there are several labs that you can contact for testing.  The way that you send in the sample varies at all of these locations.  We strongly encourage you to call to get instructions from whichever lab you choose.

State                    Lab                                                      Phone  Number
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 Unit CWD, 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

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:

Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance 

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

States with CWD

CWD Confirmed Positive States