Help Wanted Containing Chronic Wasting Disease

Help Wanted Containing Chronic Wasting Disease
The Conservation Department will continue to test for chronic wasting disease in wild deer and work with the Department of Agriculture if detected. By: David Stonner
The Conservation Department will continue to test for chronic wasting disease in wild deer and work with the Department of Agriculture if detected. By: David Stonner

The Conservation Department will continue to test for chronic wasting disease in wild deer and work with the Department of Agriculture if detected. By: David Stonner

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Hunters are important partners in the Missouri Department of Conservation’s effort to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), and agency officials urge hunters to take simple precautions when processing deer.

Although there is no evidence that CWD can affect humans or domestic animals, it is always fatal to members of the deer family. It is caused by abnormal proteins, called prions, which can remain infective for years after an infected deer dies.

Deer can become infected if they are exposed to soil containing CWD prions. Prions can get into soil when infected deer or deer parts decompose on the soil surface. Since many hunters process their own deer, they are key players in slowing the spread of CWD.


“One way that CWD can spread is by the transportation and improper disposal of carcass parts by hunters,” says Conservation Department Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “CWD prions are concentrated in the spinal column, brain and other non-edible parts of deer that hunters normally discard. It’s important for hunters to know that moving deer carcasses from one part of the state to another runs the risk of spreading CWD.”


CWD has been found in captive and free-ranging deer in Macon County. The Conservation Department has established a CWD Containment Zone in Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan counties and has taken measures to confine the disease to this area. Sumners says he is confident that hunters will do everything they can to avoid spreading CWD if they understand how important proper carcass disposal is.


“No one has more at stake in this effort than hunters do,” he says.

Sumners says hunters should avoid cutting through bones, the spine or brain when processing deer carcasses. If they hunt somewhere other than home, they need to bring knives and containers so they can remove meat from bones and leave behind potentially infectious material.

If hunters must transport whole carcasses, then they need to send non-edible carcass parts to state-approved landfills, where they will be properly buried. This can be accomplished by double bagging the carcass remains and sending them through municipal trash collection. If this is impractical, bury the carcass deep enough that scavengers can’t dig it up.


Preparing antlered deer for taxidermy requires different precautions. Taxidermists use artificial head forms to create mounts, so there is no reason to keep skulls, which can carry prions. When removing the cape from the carcass, also skin the head. Use a power saw to remove the antlers, along with a small portion of the skull that joins them. Clean the inside of the skull plate with chlorine bleach before leaving the area where the deer was killed.

Many hunters prefer to make their own “European” mounts, where antlers are left on deer skulls and mounted without hide. Cleaning intact skulls usually includes boiling. This is not hot enough to deactivate prions, so tissues to be discarded should be soaked for approximately one hour in a 50-percent bleach mixture to minimize any potential for those materials to be infectious.

Sumners also encourages hunters who harvest deer within the containment zone to donate tissue samples for the CWD monitoring program the Conservation Department started in 2002.


The Wildlife Code of Missouri requires hunters who harvest deer, elk, or moose out of state and bring the animal with the spinal column or head attached into Missouri to call toll free, 877-853-5665, and report the animal’s entry within 24 hours. They also must take the carcass to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours of entry. This is designed to prevent introducing CWD into new areas of Missouri from other states.

Hunters transporting deer through Missouri en route to other states do not need to call the number.

Details about these measures are listed in the 2013 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, which is available at MDC offices, where hunting permits are sold and online at mdc.mo.gov/node/3656.

Recommended for You

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat. Guns

MidwayUSA Pro Series Shooting Mat

G&F Staff

Shooters across the U.S. are using this competition shooting mat.

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere. Records

State Records Reported in Maryland, Michigan

G&F Online Staff - May 23, 2019

It must be time for summer fishing because records are falling everywhere.

If you've been catching catfish with the same method for years, it's time to change it up and learn a new baiting technique. Fishing How-To

Your Guide for the Best Catfish Baits

G&F Staff

If you've been catching catfish with the same method for years, it's time to change it up and...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

 A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest.

Although the art Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

See More Stories

More Stories

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are Stories

Call Our Complex Coyotes

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 13, 2017

We Coyote hunters spend a lot of time ringing the dog's dinner bell when we call. But we are

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human Stories

Coyotes In Suburbia

Stephen D. Carpenteri - November 30, 2016

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human

 Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin 30.30 Stories

Grandpa's Gun Tags Giant Buck, Ends Multi-Year Quest

Lynn Burkhead - November 21, 2017

Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×