COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife is asking hunters to help keep Ohio’s wild white-tailed deer herd free of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is an incurable fatal neurological disease that affects members of the deer family including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, and caribou.
There is no strong evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans; however, hunters are encouraged to follow standard precautions when handling deer, including:
- Wear rubber gloves when field-dressing and butchering, and thoroughly wash hands afterward.
- Minimize the handling of brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, and lymph nodes.
- Do not consume meat from any animal that appears sick or tests positive for CWD.
- Hunters have the option to have their deer tested by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory for a fee. Please call 614-728-6220 for more information.
To help protect Ohio’s deer herd from CWD, hunters should properly dispose of their deer carcasses by double-bagging all high-risk parts (brain, spinal cord, eyes, and lymphoid tissue) and setting it out with their household garbage for trash pickup. Those without trash pickup can double bag the carcass and take it to a municipal solid waste landfill or bury the carcass at least 3 feet deep on the property of harvest. The proper handling of carcasses, trims, and parts dramatically decreases the odds of introducing CWD into Ohio’s wild deer herd.
Portions of Holmes and Tuscarawas counties were declared a Disease Surveillance Area (DSA) in 2018. Specific regulations apply to hunters, including mandatory disease testing during the seven-day gun season. Inspection station locations may be found in the 2020-2021 Hunting Regulations guidebook and at wildohio.gov. Inspection stations will be self-serve and unmanned this year, however participation is still required.
Voluntary CWD sampling is also taking place in northwest Ohio again this year. Hunters who harvest a deer in Lucas, Fulton, and Williams counties are encouraged to submit samples for testing. Self-serve kiosk locations can be found on the wildlife diseases page at wildohio.gov.
To minimize the risk of spreading CWD, hunters planning to hunt outside of Ohio are reminded to follow carcass regulations prior to returning. No person is permitted to bring high-risk carcass parts of CWD-susceptible species (white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, caribou, or moose) into Ohio. High-risk carcass parts may be transported through Ohio if they are not unloaded within the state.
If you hunt outside Ohio, you must bone out the meat before returning to the state with an elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, caribou, or moose. Only the following parts may be brought into Ohio:
- Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached;
- Meat that is boned out, securely and completely wrapped either commercially or privately;
- Cleaned hides with no heads attached;
- Skull plates that have been cleaned of all meat and brain tissue;
- Antlers with no meat or tissue attached;
- Cleaned upper canine teeth;
- Hides and capes without any part of the head or lymph nodes attached; or
- Finished taxidermy mounts.
More information about CWD and actions to take to help protect Ohio’s wild deer can be found in the 2019-2020 Ohio Deer Summary. Hunters can direct questions to their county wildlife officer, 800-WILDLIFE (800-945-3543), or a wildlife district office.
The Division of Wildlife is responsible for managing Ohio’s fish and wildlife resources for the benefit of all Ohioans. The Division of Wildlife greatly appreciates the cooperation of hunters in helping monitor Ohio’s deer herd. For more information about CWD, visit wildohio.gov.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.