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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging hunters to get their deer tested for chronic wasting disease before consuming venison.

Hunting season is underway in Wisconsin. It is important for hunters to take precautions when harvesting deer. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), Centers for Disease Control, and World Health Organization do not recommend consuming meat from deer that test positive for chronic wasting disease. It is important to note that infected deer can look healthy.

Chronic wasting disease

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an always-fatal contagious neurological disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk, moose and caribou. The disease can spread through contact with an infected animal’s saliva, urine or feces. It can also spread indirectly through exposure to a contaminated environment. CWD prions are extremely resilient and can stay in the soil for a long time, making containment of an affected area a challenge.

The only way to ensure your deer is free from CWD is to test. Testing for CWD is available to avoid illness. Additionally, DHS encourages testing for the disease regardless of your harvested deer’s physical condition, especially in areas where CWD is known to be present.

2022 chronic wasting disease in Racine County

Disease surveillance is ongoing in Racine County, where there have been wild and/or captive CWD positives.

To view the complete map, visit the Wisconsin DNR website.

Where & How

The DNR has made CWD testing easy and accessible to every hunter in the state by offering free testing and various options to make the sample drop-off process fast and convenient. By having deer tested, hunters help protect the state’s deer herd by providing the DNR with important data needed to understand where CWD exists on the landscape to help slow the spread.  

The DNR offers four easy ways to submit a sample:

  • Self-service kiosks
    • Kiosks are open 24/7 and have supplies for hunters to drop off their adult deer’s head with 5 inches of neck attached for testing. This is a great option for antlerless deer or any deer that has already been skull-capped or capped out by a taxidermist. Hunters can find a location near them by checking the CWD sampling page on the DNR website.
  • In-person with cooperating meat processors, taxidermists and other businesses
    • This is a great option for hunters with a deer they intend to mount. If your taxidermist is not a cooperator, ask for the capped-out head back so you can drop it off at a kiosk. Meat processors/other businesses can collect the deer head for sampling later or remove the lymph nodes at the time of drop-off. Use the interactive map on the DNR website to find locations near you.
  • At-home lymph node sampling
    • These kits are available for those interested in collecting their own CWD sample and for hunters who are unable to stop by a kiosk or cooperator within a day or two of harvesting a deer. Hunters can extract the retropharyngeal lymph nodes using an instruction kit provided by the DNR or picked up at a self-serve kiosk. These samples can be returned to the DNR or a kiosk for testing.
  • By appointment with local DNR staff
    • This is a good option for hunters who want to have a European mount done. Hunters can contact their local wildlife management staff to schedule an in-person appointment.

Additionally, when submitting a sample for testing, use the DNR’s online CWD form to complete the process. Hunters can access the form in their Go Wild harvest history after registering their deer.

Disposal of chronic wasting disease-infected animal

Chronic wasting disease testing, proper carcass disposal, and following baiting and feeding regulations are three key ways to slow the spread. The DNR’s guide to slowing the spread of CWD provides even more ways hunters can help.

Hunting season

More information about the 2022 hunting seasons in Wisconsin can be found online.

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