CWD Undetected in Massachusetts Deer

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MassWildlife staff member working with CWD samplesBased on data gathered during this past year, no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected in Massachusetts deer or moose. MassWildlife recently received results from a federally certified veterinary diagnostic laboratory that indicate that all the brain, lymph node, and tonsil samples taken from deer during last fall’s hunting season tested negative for the disease. In late 2007 and early 2008, MassWildlife collected 487 samples from hunter-harvested and car killed deer from across the state for CWD monitoring and testing. This was the sixth year of sampling in Massachusetts as part of a nationwide CWD monitoring and surveillance program. One moose sample from a roadkill was also submitted and did not test positive for CWD.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disorder known to affect white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. The World Health Organization has concluded that there is no evidence that people can become infected with CWD. CWD was first identified in the late 1960’s in Colorado and remained located in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska for over two decades. In the past decade, CWD has been found in parts of the Midwest, several Canadian provinces and most recently in the eastern states of New York and West Virginia.

As stewards for wildlife in the state, MassWildlife has implemented strict regulations to prevent the disease from entering the Bay State and affecting the health of both wild and captive deer populations. It is unlawful to import all species of live deer, including European red deer, sika deer, fallow deer and reindeer, all species commonly raised commercially. It is also illegal for anyone to import, process or possess whole carcasses or parts of deer or elk (from wild or captive deer herds) from states and Canadian provinces where CWD has been detected. The only exceptions to the regulation are meat that is deboned, cleaned skull caps, cleaned hides and finished taxidermy mounts. By restricting importation to these specific deer parts, the importation of neurological tissue –which is where the disease-causing prions are located — is prevented, while sportsmen and sportswomen hunting in states with CWD can still safely use the deer they harvest. For more CWD information, go to: