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Chronic Wasting Disease


Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease that impacts deer, moose, and other members of the deer family (cervids). CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, or TSE. Related animal diseases include scrapie in sheep and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in cattle.


deer with cwd


Frequently Asked Questions


Where is CWD found?
CWD was first identified in Colorado in 1978. Over the last few decades, it has expanded rapidly and by April 2022, CWD had been detected in 30 states, four Canadian provinces, and in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and South Korea. CWD has never been detected in New Hampshire.
What are the symptoms of CWD?
Animals may be infected with CWD for many months, even years, before showing symptoms. Symptoms of advanced CWD include emaciation, drooling, holding the head in a lowered position, and disorientation. There is no treatment for CWD and it is ALWAYS FATAL.
How does CWD spread?
CWD is not the result of a virus or bacteria. It is caused by abnormal proteins called prions that attack the brains of infected animals. These infectious prions are most likely transmitted through physical contact (such as nose to nose), through infected feed, or through environmental contamination; for example, through feces or urine. Abnormal prions tend to be most concentrated in nervous system tissue such as the brain or spinal cord or in lymphatic tissue such as lymph nodes.
What are the impacts of CWD?
CWD has the potential to have devastating long-term impacts on deer populations. In some CWD-positive areas of Wyoming and Colorado, prevalence of the disease has exceeded 50% and resulted in population declines. A 2016 study in Wyoming found that CWD-infected deer had a mortality rate 4.5 times greater than uninfected animals. Furthermore, license sales and revenue can decline due to increased concern for the disease and hunter dissatisfaction due to reduced deer densities. States where CWD is found often spend millions of dollars on management actions and increased disease surveillance.
How can CWD be managed?
Containment programs typically consist of drastic reductions of deer populations in areas where the disease has been documented. Lower deer densities reduce disease transmission and prevalence and slow (but not stop) the spread of the disease.
What is NH Fish and Game doing about CWD?

NH Fish and Game hopes to minimize the risk of CWD entering New Hampshire by reducing the chances of a CWD-infected animal, living or dead, entering the state and possibly infecting our wild or captive deer. Regulations prohibit the importation of live white-tailed deer and moose into New Hampshire, and the NH Department of Agriculture closely regulates the importation of other live cervids, requiring them to meet both state and federal animal health standards.


In addition, NH Fish and Game prohibits the importation into the state of hunter-killed cervid carcasses or high-risk parts of carcasses from jurisdictions where CWD has been detected. See more details here.

Is NH Fish and Game conducting surveillance testing for CWD?
NH Fish and Game began a CWD surveillance program for wild deer in the fall of 2002. The Department collects approximately 400 samples from hunter-killed deer annually, which are submitted to a laboratory for testing. To date, CWD has not been detected in any of the samples tested.
Where can I find more information on CWD?
The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance has developed a website ( which is acting as a national clearinghouse for the most up-to-date and accurate information on CWD.



Help Our Herd!

Keep CWD out of New Hampshire


Because there is no vaccine or treatment, the best line of defense against CWD is to prevent it from ever reaching our state. New Hampshire hunters should follow the guidelines below to do their part to help protect the state’s deer and moose populations from this terrible disease.


Follow NH carcass importation regulations

NH Fish and Game prohibits the importation into the state of hunter-killed cervid carcasses or parts of carcasses from jurisdictions in which CWD has been detected (see map), except for de-boned meat, antlers, antlers attached to skull caps from which all soft tissue has been removed, upper canine teeth (a.k.a. buglers, whistlers or ivories), hides or capes with no part of the head attached, and finished taxidermy mounts.

These regulations are designed to minimize the risk of New Hampshire's deer and moose being exposed to CWD through the importation of an infected animal, or the disposal of tissues from an infected hunter-killed animal. CWD prions are very stable and could easily be spread if diseased deer parts were disposed of in our environment. Hunters can help by sharing this information with other hunters to help ensure New Hampshire remains CWD-free.


If you hunt deer or elk in other states and provinces, particularly those in which CWD has been detected, you should check with their state fish and wildlife agency to see if they have any specific advice to hunters or special regulations.


List and Map of CWD-Positive Jurisdictions

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CWD Map of U.S.




*New York is no longer considered a CWD-positive jurisdiction by New Hampshire. However, New York-killed deer still may not be transported through Massachusetts or Vermont. As a consequence, New Hampshire Fish and Game recommends that hunters continue the past practice of deboning New York deer. 


Why Are Import Restrictions So Important?

The map below shows the home zip codes of successful hunters who hunted in Wisconsin’s CWD management area during 2016 and 2017. This map shows the potential for hunters to spread CWD-infected materials from their harvested deer if they do not follow import restrictions. When you consider that Wisconsin is only 1 of 34 CWD-positive jurisdictions in North America, you can see the important role hunters can play in either helping to contain the disease or possibly spreading it further.


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map of home zip codes of hunters harvesting Wisconsin deer


Don’t use urine-based attractants while hunting

Although there is no direct evidence linking urine-based lures to the spread of CWD there are a number of studies that have shown the prion that causes CWD is present in urine, feces, and saliva of infected animals. Urine for these lures is often collected from captive deer facilities in states where CWD is present. These lures do not undergo any quality control or treatment that might inactivate or kill disease-causing agents, and there is currently no approved testing of commercial lures.


cwd deer

Most hunters use small amounts of these lures. However, the infective prion is extremely stable and can persist in the environment for years as a source of possible infection. Therefore, there could be cumulative effects due to the continued application of urine-based lures in the environment over time. There are a number of effective synthetic deer lures on the market today which do not pose a risk of spreading disease to New Hampshire’s deer and moose populations. These synthetic deer lures can be used in place of natural urine-based attractants.


Don't feed deer!

The artificially high deer densities associated with feeding create the potential for increased spread and prevalence of CWD, both from infected feed and close contact among individual deer. Deer feeding provides limited benefits to deer but adds significantly to the risk that CWD or other diseases could be spread more quickly and widely. Learn more...


Read more: Chronic Wasting Disease (Centers for Disease Control)