FAQ's on CWD
- Is the deer I harvest safe to eat?
There is currently no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating meat of infected animals. The Center of Disease Control and the World Health Organization have thoroughly investigated any connection between CWD and the human forms of TSEs and stated "the risk of infection with the CWD agent among hunters is extremely small, if it exists at all" and "it is extremely unlikely that CWD would be a food borne hazard". NGPC does not recommend eating a deer known to have CWD.
- How can I reduce the possibility of spreading CWD contaminated tissue when butchering my deer?
Prions are concentrated in the brain, spinal cord, lymph glands, tonsils, eyes and spleen. Wear latex or rubber gloves. Bone all meat. Don't saw through bone. Removal of fatty tissue will remove all lymph glands.
- How should I clean my butchering equipment?
What destroys prions?
The causative agent is very resistant to disinfection. The best recommendation at this time is to disinfect butchering equipment with strong chlorine bleach.
- I usually take my deer to a commercial processor?
What should I expect of them?
Commercial operators should bone the deer and keep your deer meat separate from other deer. Lymph glands should be removed prior to grinding the meat.
- I want to keep my deer antlers. What Should I do?
If you use a saw to remove antlers, it should be cleaned and disinfected afterwards. This saw should not be used on any other part of the carcass. If you keep the entire skull for a (European mount), you should insure all meat is removed, wearing rubber or latex gloves while doing this, and soak the head in a strong chlorine bleach.
- I usually dump my deer bones in a pasture. Can other deer get CWD from the bones?
Studies in Colorado have indicated that CWD may be spread by improper carcass disposal. We recommend that the bones and other waste be double bagged in strong garbage bags and disposed of at a landfill with an approved dead animal pit.
- Can I get my deer tested for CWD and will NGPC pay for the test?
YES and NO. NGPC will pay for CWD tests for most of the deer taken in the endemic area and those we collect at check stations for surveillance and monitoring. NGPC will notify hunters of the results. NGPC will also be collecting approximately 100 samples from deer in all other DMU's for CWD testing. NGPC will not pay for the testing of other deer. It may be possible for you to get your deer tested, but this requires you to remove and preserve the lymph nodes and send them in to a lab to get tested. If you are not sure if you are in an area where we provide testing, contact the nearest Commission office.
- What is going happen to the deer herd in the areas where CWD has been found in Nebraska?
NGPC has developed a CWD management plan in cooperation with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Environmental Quality. Elements of the plan include the following: Areas found to have CWD will be sampled by NGPC to estimate the spread of CWD in that area. Culling and hunting seasons will be implemented to reduce deer herds in CWD areas on a case-by-case basis. Deer harvested in these areas in subsequent years will be tested for CWD. Once an area is determined to be CWD free for a minimum of 5 years, the deer herds will be allowed to build back to pre-CWD levels. We hope to eliminate CWD or at least contain the spread of CWD until such time as we are able to eliminate it from our deer herd.
- What are you doing with the elk herd?
We will continue to test hunter killed elk for CWD. No wild elk in Nebraska have tested positive for CWD.
- You are killing all the deer in my area and eliminating my ability to hunt deer or lease my ground for deer hunting. This isn't right. What are you going to do about it?
We believe that if CWD is allowed to go on unchecked it may spread to the rest of the state, potentially decimating Nebraska's deer herd. We believe that large scale herd reductions in CWD areas are prudent. If CWD can be eliminated from
these areas the herds will be allowed to increase. If CWD is shown to be less lethal to deer and impossible to transmit to humans we may change our management plan.
- I hear that shooting deer over bait is now illegal. Can I use food plots? Can I bait/feed outside of deer season?
A Game and Parks regulation passed earlier this year governs hunting over bait. NGPC used its authority over hunting to make it illegal to hunt within 200 yards of an area that has been baited during the past 60 days. Food plots are legal at all
times of the year. Baiting and feeding of deer is also legal, but hunting over bait is not legal. Considering the risks associated with baiting and the possibility of spreading CWD and other disease organisms, NGPC believes it prudent that hunters
and landowners stop all baiting and feeding of deer and elk. We believe that baiting, mineral blocks, feed piles used by deer all increase the odds of disease transmission. While the method of CWD disease transmission is not known, the best guess is that nose to nose contact increases the risk.
- What is the role of captive wildlife in spreading CWD?
Two issues exist with captive wildlife and CWD. First, captive wildlife have been traded and sold throughout much of the United States. CWD has been spread to many captive herds across North America by this transfer of CWD infected animals. Since no live animal test for CWD was available, it was impossible to certify that an animal was not infected. Only after an infected animal was positively identified in a herd could that herd be quarantined. Second, in many states, no laws existed to prevent animals from CWD herds being transferred to their states. At this time many states are enacting laws to block the movement of captive deer and elk into their states.
- Will CWD spread to other parts of Nebraska's deer herd?
We believe that CWD will spread outside of the existing CWD areas if it is not quickly controlled or eliminated. Deer commonly move 5 or 10 miles between winter and summer ranges. It is not uncommon for individual deer to move 50 or more miles in one year.
- Where else might CWD exist in Nebraska or in other states?
As the spread of CWD to Wisconsin points out, the potential exists for CWD to be found anywhere that deer or elk exist. It is unknown how or when CWD arrived in Wisconsin. Nebraska and other states will increase CWD detection efforts, but the primary identification of new CWD areas will come from spot surveillance. When a sick animal that exhibits CWD type symptoms is found, that animal will be tested for CWD.