With the 2019 deer hunting season underway, hunters are reminded to follow the deer carcass transport regulations and to dispose of deer carcass waste appropriately, according to Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife experts.

The movement of deer carcasses infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a pathway for the disease to spread and carcass parts from CWD-positive deer that are left on the landscape are a possible route for disease transmission to other deer, according to Tami Ryan, acting DNR Wildlife Management Bureau director. 

CWD can spread among deer by direct contact between animals and indirectly through exposure to environments contaminated with CWD prions, the protein that causes the disease.

“Exposure to an area where a CWD-positive carcass has decomposed could be enough to cause infection in deer,” said Ryan. “Because of this risk, it is vital that deer carcasses including all bones and other deer carcass waste from butchering are disposed of in a way to reduce this infection risk.”

Carcass movement re­strictions are in place to limit the spread of the disease. Whole deer carcasses and certain parts of carcasses from CWD-affected counties can only be moved within CWD-affected counties and an adjacent county unless going directly to a licensed taxidermist or meat processor within 72 hours of registration. 

Hunters in counties that are not CWD-affected can also take this action voluntarily. Hunters can visit dnr.wi.gov for a list of deer carcass parts that may be transported beyond CWD-affected counties or an adjacent county as well as more information about carcass transport.

Hunters from other states/provinces should be aware of their state’s carcass movement restrictions of deer harvested in Wisconsin before heading home.

Whole carcasses and parts of carcasses, other than those listed, from states and provinces where CWD has been detected are not allowed to be brought into Wisconsin unless taken to a meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours of entry into Wisconsin.

“CWD prions are infectious even after a positive deer dies so proper handling and disposal of the carcass is very important to slow the spread of the disease,” said Ryan. “Transporting a CWD-positive carcass to areas that are not yet known to have CWD increases the risk of transmission to new areas of the state.

“Proper disposal of deer carcass waste is a factor in containing the spread of CWD. The Department of Natural Resources is committed to providing safe, convenient disposal options to hunters especially in areas where options are limited or unavailable.

“This year, more deer carcass waste dumpsters are available to hunters across the state,” said Ryan. “Some of the dumpsters will become available right before the nine-day gun deer season so hunters should check the deer carcass disposal map at dnr.wi.gov frequently. More locations will be added and available during the nine-day gun deer season thanks to all the individuals and organizations that are participating in our adopt-a-dumpster program.”

Hunters are encouraged to dispose of deer carcass waste in a licensed landfill that accepts this waste or in a dumpster designated for deer carcass waste. If a municipality allows deer disposal curbside or at a transfer station, the carcass should be double bagged, according to Ryan.

A map with the CWD sampling locations and deer carcass disposal locations is at dnr.wi.gov as well as in the Hunt Wild Wisconsin app.