Understanding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

Overview of CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is an inevitably fatal, transmissible disease affecting the neurological system of cervids, including deer, elk, and moose. Characterized by damage to the brain manifested in small lesions, CWD causes a steady decline in the animal's health and overall body condition until death.

Disease Characteristics and Impact

  • Progression: Progressive deterioration of neurological functions leading to physical wasting.
  • Treatment: Currently, there is no known cure or treatment for CWD-infected animals.
  • Human Transmission: To date, no cases of CWD have been reported in humans.

Monitoring Efforts in Delaware

  • Surveillance: The Division has conducted extensive testing, analyzing nearly 10,000 samples from harvested deer since 2002.
  • Prevalence: All samples have tested negative for CWD in Delaware, indicating no presence of the disease in the state.

The absence of CWD in Delaware highlights effective monitoring strategies and the importance of continued vigilance and awareness among hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.

Preventing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Delaware

Legal Preventative Measures Against CWD

Delaware has established strict legal protocols to prevent the introduction and spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD):

  • Import Ban: It's illegal to import or possess cervid carcasses or parts from locations where CWD has been detected, whether in free-ranging or captive populations, as defined by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Permitted Items for Import

Despite this prohibition, certain cervid parts are exempt and can be legally brought into Delaware:

  • Boned-out Meat: Cut, wrapped, and devoid of spinal column or skull.
  • Meat Portions: Quarters or cuts without spinal column or skull parts.
  • Hides/Capes: Must be without the skull portion.
  • Skull Plates: If cleaned with no meat or tissue, with attached antlers.
  • Antlers: With no meat or tissue remnants.
  • Teeth: Upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers, or ivories.
  • Taxidermy: Finished taxidermy products are permissible.

These regulations are a proactive approach, aiming to be less costly and simpler than managing CWD post-outbreak, intending to safeguard the health of Delaware's deer population. Hunters are key participants in these efforts, as their adherence to regulations plays a crucial role in minimizing CWD risks.

CWD Restrictions for Hunters in Neighboring States

States with CWD Presence

The presence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been confirmed in several counties within states neighboring Delaware:

  • Maryland: Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties.
  • Pennsylvania: Wide array spanning across Adams to Westmoreland Counties.
  • Virginia: Multiple counties from Clarke to Warren.
  • West Virginia: Berkley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, and Morgan Counties.

Restrictions for Hunters

Hunters may bring back deer harvests from these specific counties with CWD restrictions in place, but only the below-mentioned parts are allowed:

  • Boned-out meat
  • Quarters or other meat portions without the spinal column or skull
  • Hides or capes without the skull
  • Clean skull plates with antlers
  • Antlers without tissue
  • Upper canine teeth
  • Finished taxidermy products

For areas outside the specified CWD-positive zones, these restrictions do not apply, and hunters can bring their harvest into Delaware without the same limitations.

Further Information

  • National CWD Presence: CWD has been detected in 29 states and 3 Canadian provinces.
  • Up-to-date List: For a comprehensive list of CWD-affected areas in other states, visit CWD Alliance.
  • Division Contact: For direct inquiries, hunters can reach out to the Division at 302-735-3600.

These preventive measures are instrumental in maintaining the health of Delaware's deer population and mitigating the risk of CWD transmission.

Reporting Procedure for CWD-Positive Deer Carcass Importation into Delaware

Mandatory Reporting for CWD-Positive Test Results:

If any individual imports a deer carcass or specific deer parts (such as antlers, meat, hide, etc.) into Delaware, and it subsequently tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in another state, there are immediate reporting obligations:

  • Report Within 72 Hours: The individual must inform the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife within 72 hours upon receiving notification of a positive CWD test result.
  • Contact Method: To report, call the Division directly at 302-735-3600.

Reference for Restricted Areas and Further Guidance:

  • Complete List of CWD-Affected Regions: For an up-to-date and detailed list of areas with CWD restrictions in other states, refer to the previously mentioned websites or directly engage with the Division.
  • Division Assistance: For more information or clarification, contact the Division at 302-735-3600.

This reporting requirement is a critical component of Delaware’s efforts to prevent the spread of CWD. Compliance helps the state effectively monitor and manage potential risks associated with wildlife diseases.

Proper Disposal of Deer Carcass to Prevent CWD Transmission

Even without confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in certain areas, prudent disposal of deer carcasses by hunters is essential to mitigate the risk of spreading the disease:

  • Responsible Disposal: All inedible parts of the deer carcass, post-processing, should be disposed of properly as household waste.
  • Disposal Method: Place skeleton, hide, and butchering scraps in a sealed trash bag, then combine with regular household trash, ensuring safe transport to a landfill.
  • Avoiding Ground Dumping: Discarding butchering scraps on the ground is strongly discouraged to prevent potential contact and transmission of CWD to wild deer populations in Delaware.

Following these guidelines helps protect local deer herds and contributes to ongoing efforts to manage and contain CWD.

Minimizing CWD Risk When Using Deer Urine Attractants

CWD Transmission via Biological Materials:

  • Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) can spread through contaminated biological materials, including deer urine, which is commonly employed as a hunting attractant.

Recommendations for Hunters Using Deer Urine:

  • Alternative Attractants: Opt for attractants devoid of natural deer urine, or choose synthetic urine products to eliminate the risk of CWD transmission.

  • Safe Usage Practices: If using natural deer urine, apply it in a way that prevents direct contact with the forest floor or any surfaces that deer might encounter. The recommended method includes:

    • Elevated Scent Wick: Saturate a scent wick, cotton ball, or similar absorbent material with the urine and suspend it on a branch beyond the reach of deer.
    • Post-Hunt Removal: After hunting, diligently remove any scent-dispensing items from the environment to prevent deer from later encountering and potentially contracting CWD.

Adhering to these precautions is vital for individual hunters to contribute to the broader efforts of CWD prevention and wildlife conservation.

For More Information on CWD

Additional information on CWD can be found at the CWD Alliance website www.cwd-info.org and on the Delaware Fish and Wildlife website https://de.gov/fw.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.