Skip to Main Content

CWD Carcass Importation Restrictions

Keep Tennessee CWD Free
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!

Hunter Recommendations 

Cleaning Teeth & Skull

Deboning Your Harvest 

Courtesy of Arkansas Game & Fish

Caping Your Harvest

Sick Elk - Wyoming Dept. of Game &  Fish

Public Health Concerns, a Note to All Tennesseans:

Whether you hunt deer and or just enjoy watching them, you should be aware of a disease known among wildlife professionals by the abbreviation CWD.

For those unfamiliar with these initials, they stand for chronic wasting disease, a deadly and contagious neurological disorder that can destroy populations of deer, elk, and other animals classified as members of the deer family known as cervids.

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.

We are hoping with your help to get the message to traveling sportsmen that  all states are legal to hunt, but cervid carcasses brought into Tennessee must be properly dressed and cleaned.

Regardless of whether you hunt, please help get the message to your hunting friends and relatives that CWD has not been found in our state and we want to KEEP TENNESSEE CWD FREE.

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

Press Release:

Wildlife Commission Approves Amended Rule Intended To  Expand Tennessee’s Carcass Import Restrictions

With increasing concerns about the potential impact of chronic wasting disease (CWD), the governing body of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency voted recently to amend a rule regarding import restrictions on deer, elk, moose, and caribou carcasses.

This rule is in effect to protect the state from the unintentional introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). 

The amended rule will now be sent from the 13-member Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission to the State Attorney General’s Office for review.  The Rule Amendment became effective 7/19/2018

Ultimately the amendment is intended to make every U.S. state outside of Tennessee and all Canadian provinces subject to TWRA’s carcass import restrictions.

Previously the rule only included import restrictions on states where CWD had alredy been documented. The amendment changed the rule to include all states, regardless of CWD status.

Right now 25 states and three Canadian provinces have documented chronic wasting disease.

“This change will make our import restriction rule easy to understand,” explained Chuck Yoest, an assistant chief in TWRA’s Wildlife Division. “No matter where a hunter travels outside of Tennessee, import restrictions must be followed. “It also helps strengthen our message about how serious this disease is.”

CWD is a contagious and deadly neurological disorder that affects members of the deer family known scientifically as cervids. It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment, and with contaminated feed or water sources.  

Prions are responsible for CWD transmission, not a bacteria or a virus.  Prions are misfolded or abnormal proteins found throughout a diseased animal’s body, but are concentrated in an animal’s eyes, brain, tonsils, spleen and lymph nodes.

White-tailed deer are common in Tennessee, while a small population of elk can be found in the eastern portion of the state.  Import restrictions have been designed to protect these native herds.

“We have hunters who often return from trips with an elk, deer, moose, or even caribou carcass,” noted Yoest.  “We don’t want hunters to unintentionally introduce CWD to Tennessee through infected tissues.”

While CWD is considered 100 percent fatal once contracted, it is not known to harm humans or livestock. Nonetheless, wildlife agencies across the country are working to inform the public about CWD and its deadly results on cervids and possible impacts to economies.

Many states that have documented CWD are also attempting to contain it, which is a time consuming and costly task.

Mississippi recently discovered CWD, while Arkansas documented its first case two years ago. Mississippi is just beginning the expensive task of containment, while Arkansas has spent approximately $2.5 million implementing its CWD management plan.

“We don’t want to go down that road,” said Yoest.  “We also have a CWD plan ready for use, but it implementing it will mean changing the way we manage our deer and elk herds and be very expensive.

“Many of the management practices that have made our deer and elk programs successful will have to be reversed as we try to prevent CWD from spreading. Much of the overall Agency’s focus will change to CWD, taking away from other important wildlife programs.”

T.C.A. 1660-01-15