Chronic Wasting Disease: What to Know This Hunting Season

Oregon’s wildlife experts are warning hunters about a fatal disease found in deer and elk, and how to take precautions against it.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is urging hunters be aware of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a highly infectious disease found in deer, elk, moose, and other animals in the cervid family. CWD does not pose a risk to humans, but it could cause significant declines in regional wildlife populations if there is rampant spread. CWD has not been detected in Oregon, but it was found in animals harvested near the Snake River on the Idaho-Oregon border in 2021.

Experts say CWD has not shown to cause illness in humans, but they do not recommend eating CWD-contaminated meat, and encourage caution with any infected animals.

Lists of participating meat processors and taxidermists can also be found on the ODFW website. Once a sample is tested, hunters can view the results on the ODFW website as well.

If members who harvest an animal with their Tribal tag would like to have the animal tested for CWD, they can follow the guidelines outlined in the article. ODFW recommends hunters have their game tested for CWD in order to track any potential spread of the disease. They posted the recommendations on their website, which include the following:

  • Stop at check stations along major travel routes at the start of the 2024 big game hunting season
  • Make an appointment at an ODFW field office to allow a wildlife biologist to take a sample
  • Drop off a head in a drop barrel at select ODFW field office locations.
  • Have your meat processed at a participating processor who will collect a sample
  • Take your animal to a participating taxidermist who will collect a sample

CWD does not impact hunting and fishing agreements established between ODFW and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Tribal citizens who receive their Tribal hunting tag through the Cow Creek Umpqua Tribal Government are encouraged to follow all ODFW rules and regulations, and can have their animal tested for CWD by bringing it to ODFW.