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Course Outline

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a naturally occurring disease of the brain and nervous system in deer and elk.

CWD belongs to the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) that attacks the brains of deer and elk, producing small lesions that eventually result in death.

CWD has not been shown to be transmissible to humans and should not prevent you from hunting.

If you hunt deer or elk in states or provinces where CWD has been detected, check with the state's fish and wildlife agency regarding any special regulations or advice for hunters. 

Always take the same precautions you would follow to protect against other pathogens or diseases, especially when field dressing or butchering deer or elk.

  • Never shoot or handle a deer or elk that appears sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field dressing or butchering a deer or elk.
  • Do not use household knives or utensils.
  • Remove all internal organs.
  • Bone the deer or elk (remove the meat from the bones and spinal column).
  • Avoid cutting through bones or the spinal column (backbone).
  • Never eat the brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen, or lymph nodes of a deer or elk.
  • If you saw off antlers or through a bone, or if you sever the spinal column with a knife, be sure to disinfect those tools prior to using them for the butchering or removal of meat.
  • Remove all fat, membranes, and connective tissue from the meat. Note that normal field dressing and trimming of fat from meat will remove lymph nodes.
  • Always wash your hands and tools thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.
  • Use a 50/50 solution of household chlorine bleach and water to disinfect tools and work surfaces. Wipe down counters, and let them dry; soak knives for one hour.

You can find more information on the CWD website.

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