With the archery and crossbow deer hunting season underway in Wisconsin, state officials are encouraging hunters who harvest deer in counties affected by chronic wasting disease (CWD) to have the animal tested for CWD and only consume venison from deer in which CWD is not detected. 

“Although this venison consumption advisory has been in place for years, we thought it was important to remind people of it as we approach this fall’s deer season,” said Rachel Klos, state public health veterinarian of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS).

“The safest approach is to only consume venison from healthy-appearing deer with test results indicating that CWD was not detected,” said Klos. “This is consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.”

CWD is a fatal disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk, moose and caribou. An abnormal protein called a prion causes the disease, which is not destroyed by cooking temperatures. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been testing samples from hunter-harvested deer to monitor the disease in the wild deer herd since it was first detected in 2002. The testing methods conducted on the samples provide results about whether CWD was detected or not detected at the time of sampling.

“Although a ‘not detected’ test result does not guarantee the tested animal is not infected with CWD, it does make it less likely,” said Tami Ryan, DNR acting director for the Bureau of Wildlife Management. “Testing also allows hunters to make informed decisions about the consumption advisory.”

To find a location nearby to submit samples free of charge, hunters can visit the Find CWD Sampling, Registration and Deer Disposal Sites page of the DNR website. Test results are usually available from the DNR within two weeks.

For hunters who process their own deer, instructions on safe processing are available online at dnr.wi.gov.