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Test deer for CWD before consuming, DNR says

Test deer for CWD before consuming, DNR says

By Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Before consuming venison, hunters are encouraged to have their harvested deer tested for CWD, by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and others.

The DNR has made CWD testing easy and accessible to every hunter in the state by offering free testing and various options to make the sample drop-off process fast and convenient. By having deer tested, hunters help protect the state’s deer herd by providing the DNR important data needed to understand where CWD exists on the landscape to help slow the spread.

As a precaution, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization recommend against consuming meat from deer that test positive for the disease. Because infected deer can look healthy, DHS encourages testing for the disease regardless of the harvested deer’s physical condition, especially in areas where CWD is known to be present.

CWD is an always-fatal contagious neurological disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk, moose and caribou. The disease can spread through contact with an infected animal's saliva, urine or feces, and indirectly through exposure to a contaminated environment.

The DNR offers four easy ways to submit a sample.

Self-service kiosks open 24/7 and have supplies for hunters to drop off their deer’s head with 5 inches of neck attached for testing. This is an option for antlerless deer or any deer that has already been skull-capped or caped out by a taxidermist. Click here to find a sampling location.

Submit samples in-person with cooperating meat processors, taxidermists and other businesses. If the taxidermist is not a cooperator, ask for the caped-out head and drop it off at a kiosk. Meat processors/other businesses can collect the deer head for sampling later or remove the lymph nodes at the time of drop-off.

At-home lymph node sampling kits are available for hunters to collect their own CWD sample, but who are unable to stop by a kiosk or cooperator within a day or two of harvesting a deer. Hunters extract the retropharyngeal lymph nodes using an instruction kit provided by the DNR, or can pick up a kit at a self-serve kiosk and return to the DNR or a kiosk for testing.

Hunters can make appointments with local DNR staff, an option for hunters who want to have a European mount done. Contact local wildlife management staff to schedule in-person appointments

When submitting a sample for testing, hunters can use the online CWD form to complete the process. After registering their deer, the form can be accessed in their Go Wild harvest history. The form automatically fills in name, contact information, customer ID number and harvest registration number and includes an interactive map to drop a pin on the harvest location.

The DNR guide to slowing the spread of CWD provides even more ways hunters can help.

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