Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease of deer, moose and elk that can cause long-term population declines if left unchecked. There is no treatment or cure, and once established in an area, it remains indefinitely. For these reasons, CWD poses a major threat to North Dakota deer, elk and moose and the future of hunting these animals.
Combating CWD is a long-term endeavor that requires committed, diligent effort from all North Dakotans who value these big game animals. Through our cooperative dedication to the cause, we can protect these important species and North Dakota’s hunting heritage.
It is illegal to hunt big game over bait (see CWD proclamation for a list of bait items), or place bait to attract big game for the purpose of hunting, in deer units 1, 2B, 3A1, 3A2, 3A3, 3A4, 3B1, 3C, 3D1, 3D2, 3E1, 3E2, 3F1, 3F2, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E and 4F (2022 season).It is also illegal to hunt big game over bait or place bait on any Department Wildlife Management Area.
The Department strongly discourages feeding wildlife within these units.
CWD is a transmissible disease that can be spread directly from animal to animal, or indirectly through CWD-contaminated environments. Baiting and feeding artificially increases how frequently deer come into contact with one another. Restricting it will not stop natural congregating that occurs during some portions of the year, but it will decrease the overall risk of CWD spreading within an area by reducing the number, duration and intensity of unnatural congregations.
This is a common sense approach, backed by robust science and used by wildlife management agencies across the country.
Carcass Transport Restrictions
High-risk portions of the carcass (brain, spinal column, eyes, lower jaw, tongue, salivary glands and tonsils) cannot be transported outside of deer, moose, or elk hunting units where CWD has been detected. Exception: Lymph nodes extracted from the head for the purpose of CWD testing that are contained within a sealed, plastic bag.
In addition, high-risk carcass parts can not be transported into North Dakota if harvested outside the state. CWD is a slow, progressive disease and an animal can be infected for several months without showing any visible signs of the disease. Hunters can unintentionally spread the disease by moving infected carcass parts.
Plan ahead. Be prepared to quarter a carcass, cape out an animal, or clean a skull in the field, or find a taxidermist or meat locker within the unit who can assist you. If you have questions about how to comply with this regulation, please contact a game warden or Game and Fish Department staff ahead of time.
Surveillance and Testing
A deer with CWD will only begin to look sick in the late stages of the disease, several months after it has been infected. Most positive deer found in North Dakota appeared healthy when they were harvested. The only way to determine if your animal is infected with CWD is by getting it tested. Testing information is also critical for determining the distribution of CWD and evaluating the success of the Department’s management strategy.
Sampling kits are available for those who wish to have their animal tested but are unable to drop the head off at a collection site. The kits allow you to remove the lymph nodes yourself and ship them to the Department's Wildlife Health Lab for testing. Request a kit.
Fawns and head-shot animals cannot be tested. If you are unsure of the age or condition of your animal, submit it and we will assess it.
Test results can be expected within 4 weeks. When your results are available, you will receive a message in your Game and Fish account inbox.
Note: A number of states have established regulations or recommendations on the transportation of hunter-killed deer, moose and elk. Out-of-state hunters should be familiar with the regulations of the state in which they hunt. For more information on transportation regulations and recommendations in other states, see the CWD Alliance Web site at www.cwd-info.org.