Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease



What is CWD? 

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is caused by a contagious, fatal prion, or abnormal protein, that affects cervids such as white-tailed deer, elk, and mule deer. Prions associated with the disease are found throughout the body of infected animals, but are found in higher concentrations in the eyes, lymph nodes, and nervous tissues. For some animals, it may be a year or more before symptoms develop, which can include drastic weight loss (wasting), stumbling, listlessness, and other neurologic symptoms. Infected animals shed prions through saliva, feces, blood, and urine. Other animals can become infected through direct contact with an infected animal and through indirect contact from an infected environment. Once the disease occurs in an area, evidence demonstrates eradication is unlikely.

Management of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) requires a long-term adaptive management approach that will be refined through new science and information. Current CWD response operations are focused on:

  • Continued statewide surveillance to detect additional positives.
  • Determining the prevalence and spatial distribution of CWD.
  • Determining the origin of any CWD positive cervid.
  • Applying management actions to limit the spread of CWD.
  • Providing accurate and relevant information on CWD to the public, agency staff, affected governmental agencies, and other stakeholders. 

CWD Management Zone

The CWD Management Zone includes portions of Issaquena, Sharkey, and Warren counties. The area is defined as:

  • All portions of Warren County
  • All areas east of the Mississippi River
  • All areas south of Highways 14 and 16
  • Areas west of the Yazoo River 

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Supplemental Feeding and Carcass Transportation Ban

  • Supplemental feeding is banned in the CWD Management Zone (salt licks, mineral licks, and feeders). Direct contact with prions is the most effective means of transmitting CWD. Research indicates saliva may have the highest concentration of prions. Thus, to minimize concentration of deer and potential spread of CWD, supplemental feeding is banned within the CWD Management Zone.

  • Carcasses may not be transported outside of the CWD Management Zone. Research has shown that decomposed carcasses of infected animals can also contribute to transmission when prions bind to soil and plant material. Thus, movement of carcasses may introduce CWD into previously uninfected areas.

Best Management Practices

The following Best Management Practices (BMP) are recommended for minimizing potential environmental and human exposure to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) while handling carcasses and processing the meat from white-tailed deer. These BMPs are established on a foundation of abundant caution given the many unknowns regarding CWD. For more information about CWD, please visit

General Precautions

Inspect body condition of each deer at the time of harvest. Do not consume any part of animals exhibiting clinical symptoms of CWD, including extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, or erratic behavior.

Please report any deer that appears to be diseased by completing a diseased deer report at or call 1-800-BE-SMART.

Hunters who desire to have a deer tested for CWD are recommended to retain the head of the animal and freeze it immediately. Please remove the head at least 6 inches below the jaw, leaving enough of the neck to serve as a landmark during sampling. For more information on having your deer tested for CWD, please visit


Avoid using natural deer urine attractants, as they may carry prions from infected deer. Hunters who prefer to use lures or attractants may wish to select an artificial or food-based scent.

Research indicates saliva has the highest concentration of prions. Thus, to minimize direct contact with infectious prions, it is not recommended to establish feeders, bait sites, mineral sites, or otherwise cause unnatural concentration of deer.

Carcass Transportation

Any harvested deer may be taken directly to a taxidermist or meat processor within the CWD Management Zone.

  • Only the below products may leave the CWD Management Zone:
  • Cut/wrapped meat (commercially or privately)
  • Deboned meat
  • Hides with no head attached
  • Finished taxidermy
  • Antlers with no tissue attached
  • Cleaned skull plates (no brain tissue)
  • Cleaned skulls (no lymphoid or brain tissue)

Best Management Practices

Field Dressing:

  • Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling carcasses.
  • When field dressing an animal, leave internal organs and inedible parts at the site of harvest.
  • Avoid sawing through bone, spinal cord, brain, lymph nodes, or spleen.
  • Store all portions of the animal to be transported in a container such as a cooler, bin, or bag that will not leak bodily fluids into the environment.

Meat Processing:

  • Do not process a deer that appears to be diseased.
  • Process all deer individually, package separately, and label uniquely.
  • Debone meat from deer and remove all fat, connective tissue, and lymph nodes.
  • Avoid sawing through bone, spinal cord, brain, lymph nodes, or spleen.
  • Avoid eating/handling the eyeballs, brain, spinal cord, spleen, and lymph nodes.
  • Limit the amount of bodily fluids going to an area, such as a floor drain, that cannot be properly sanitized after use.


  • Deer parts should not be rendered for use in feed for other animals, or used as compost.
  • Recommended disposal methods for unwanted portions of carcasses (bones, organs, etc.) are:
    • Leave at the harvest site;
    • Double-bag and send to an approved, lined landfill; or
    • Deep burial (8 feet or deeper)

Equipment Cleaning:

  • Clean processing equipment between each deer.
  • Thoroughly sanitize all equipment and workstations with a 50:50 solution of bleach and water. Soak tools for one hour in the bleach solution, and then rinse thoroughly with hot water.


  • All waste parts should be double-bagged and disposed of in an approved, lined landfill.
  • Contact MDWFP if interested in participating in CWD sampling collection.

Sample Collection

Addressing conservation challenges, such as CWD, requires active involvement of those with a passion for our rich natural resources. A primary goal of CWD response and management efforts is to determine the geographic extent and prevalence of the disease. MDWFP asks hunters to aid in this effort by submitting deer for testing during the 2018–2019 white-tailed deer hunting season. Further, hunters and landowners can help monitor for CWD by actively looking for and reporting potential diseased or sick deer.

The test used to determine the presence of CWD requires a portion of the deer’s brainstem or lymph nodes. Harvested animals should remain cool until testing to reduce decomposition and provide accurate results.

Check Stations: Hunters may bring the entire animal to the check station to have the sample pulled.

Drop-Off Locations: Hunters should preserve the head with at least 6 inches of neck attached.

Antlers may be removed before depositing head.

CWD Management Zone Sample Days:
MDWFP will staff check stations within the CWD Management Zone to collect samples during high-traffic dates from 9:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.


  • Saturday, November 17
  • Friday, November 23
  • Saturday/Sunday, December 29/30, January 5/6


  • Onward Store
  • Junction of Hwy. 465 and 61 (boat ramp)

Statewide Collection Sites: MDWFP will establish collection sites across the state for the general public to deposit deer heads for testing. Freezers will be at each site for depositing deer heads. 

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North Region Office
(Mon–Fri 8:00 am–5:00 pm)
457 CR 36
Enid, MS 38927

Elvis Presley Lake
72 CR 995
Tupelo, MS 38804

Charlie Capps WMA
98 Lake Rd.
Rosedale, MS 38769

Malmaison WMA
126 Malmaison HQ Rd.
Holcomb, MS 38940



Black Prairie WMA
744 Fire Tower Rd.
Crawford, MS 39743

Mahannah WMA
1370 Anderson-Tully Rd.
Redwood, MS 39156

Caney Creek WMA
6373 West Moore Tower Rd.
Forest, MS 39074

Pearl River WMA
506 Hwy. 43 S.
Canton, MS 39046

Lake Tom Bailey
3224 North Shore Dr.
Toomsuba, MS 39364



South Region Office
(Mon–Fri 8:00 am–5:00 pm)
1201 N. Clark Ave.
Magnolia, MS 39652

Purvis VFD
805 Main St.
Purvis, MS 39475

Oak Grove Station 2 FD
236 Old Okahola School Rd.
Purvis, MS 39475

Lower Pascagoula WMA
6377 Highway 43 North
Poplarville, MS 39470

Natchez State Park
230-B Wickcliff Rd.
Natchez, MS 39120


Additional Information

MDWFP CWD Response Plan

Chronic Wasting Disease Fact Sheet

Mississippi Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone Map

MS Department of Health - Chronic Wasting Disease: Public Health Recommendations

Hog Trapping Information for Counties Requiring Permits 

MSU Deer Lab's Deer University Podcast on CWD

Mineral Sites Added to Supplemental Feeding Ban

Video: CWD Public Meeting Jackson

Chronic Wasting Disease Test Results Returned

Video: CWD Public Meeting Vicksburg

Chronic Wasting Disease: Present, Past, and Future

CWD Sampling Summary: June 27, 2018

2018 CWD Supplemental Feeding and Carcass Ban Map PDF  

2018-2019 CWD Hunting Season Handout PDF

For more information, visit the CWD Alliance website.

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