The Department of Environmental Conservation tested 2,658 harvested deer across New York State for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in the animals harvested by hunters in the 2019 season. No evidence of CWD was found. “Preventing the introduction of CWD into New York is a high priority for DEC to ensure the health of our deer herd and to protect the recreational and viewing opportunities deer provide,” State DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a press release.
CWD is always fatal, and there are no vaccines or treatments available for the animals that are infected. It is also highly contagious amongst deer, elk, moose, and caribou. This makes it a threat to New York’s wild white-tailed deer. In order to protect our wildlife, the DEC adopted regulations in 2019 which prohibits importing carcasses of deer, elk, moose, and caribou taken from outside of New York.
A philosophy of prevention is the most effective tactic in dealing with highly contagious wildlife diseases like CWD. Hunters are essential in preventing it’s spread and are encouraged to adopt several practices to prevent the number of infections:
- Debone or Process deer, elk, moose, or caribou before you return to New York. Doing so removes parts that are likely to contain the parts of the deer that are likely to contain the disease. Tickets will be given to those who do not adhere, as well as confiscation of the deer, including the trophy head.
- Find alternative lures, besides natural deer urine. Body waste has a high risk of containing the infectious protein, as commercially available urine products are not tested for CWD.
- Dispose of carcass waste even from New York deer, into a proper waste stream by disposing of butchered scraps into your regular household trash, or ensuring it goes into a licensed landfill. If you are a landowner, you may dispose of deer on your private property, but commercial businesses such as butchers or taxidermists must dispose of waste in any way excluding landfills or rendering facilities.
- Do not feed wild deer or moose. Congregation of animals can spread disease faster.
For more information on CWD, and to learn what the DEC is doing and what you can do to help, click here. You can also learn about the Interagency CWD response plan if there is another outbreak in New York by clicking here.