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Chronic Wasting Disease Information


Chronic Wasting Disease: Know the Carcass Transport Rules (Overview of rules of each state from the National Deer Alliance YouTube Channel)
Guidance to NJ Residents Who Hunt Deer, Elk or Moose in States Where CWD is Present
Urine-Based Deer Lures Advisory

Chronic Wasting Disease is a progressive and fatal neurologic disease affecting members of the Cervid family such as deer, elk, moose, and reindeer and is caused by an infectious protein called a prion. CWD results in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death, and is readily spread from deer to deer. It poses a serious threat to New Jersey's deer herds and eventually wears down and kills every infected animal.

There have been recent claims in the media that Spiroplasma bacteria are the causative agents of diseases like CWD, but those studies have never been reproduced despite extremely rigorous attempts to do so. Years of research throughout the country have provided abundant evidence that prions are the infectious agent of CWD, and this hypothesis is accepted by state agriculture and wildlife agencies across the United States.

Additionally, recent stories in the media have sensationalized the issue by referring to CWD infected deer as "Zombie Deer" and claiming human infection is inevitable and will be widespread. Again, these claims are not supported by decades of research on Chronic Wasting Disease and no cases of human disease have been linked to CWD in deer.

CWD has so far been found in captive and wild deer in 26 states, four Canadian provinces, Norway, Finland, and South Korea, with the closest known occurrence to New Jersey in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Preventing CWD from entering New Jersey is the Division of Fish and Wildlife's primary focus, and the Division aggressively monitors and tests for CWD in New Jersey's deer herd.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife is committed to providing the most up to date information regarding Chronic Wasting Disease and the health of our wildlife.

Surveys of New Jersey deer harvested in several deer seasons have found no evidence of the disease. Based on those surveys, if CWD was present in our state we are 99% confident it was in less than 1% of the adult deer at that time (without testing all of the animals in a population it is statistically impossible to say a disease is not there).

Since there is concern among hunters and others about the disease spreading to New Jersey, a "Questions and Answers" document about CWD was created by the Division's Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics and is regularly updated. Links to information about the disease and the surveys are below.

Distribution of CWD Map
Distribution of CWD in North America
Click to enlarge

Chronic Wasting Disease FAQs (pdf, 220kb) Updated November, 2019

Chronic Wasting Disease Survey Information, 1997-2018 (pdf, 330kb) Updated February, 2019
   Chronic Wasting Disease Survey, 2019-2020 (pdf, 970kb)

Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan 2013 (pdf, 223kb)

Notice Regarding Possession/Importation of Live Cervids (pdf, 220kb) Updated December, 2018

Chronic Wasting Disease Functional Prion Genotype Survey, 2006 (pdf, 260kb)

For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease, its management and related diseases visit the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance's web site.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: August 31, 2020