Chronic Wasting Disease Confirmed in Bennett County

PIERRE, S.D. – Samples collected from a sick deer found south of Martin have been confirmed to be in the late stages of chronic wasting disease (CWD).

Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) officials are saying this is the first confirmed case of CWD in free-ranging deer or elk in Bennett County.

“The whitetail buck was approximately 2 ½ years old,” said GFP wildlife biologist Steve Griffin. “The emaciated condition of the carcass indicates this deer probably had the disease for a while.”

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal brain disease of deer, elk, and moose caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. Animals in the later stages of infection with CWD may show progressive loss of weight and body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation, loss of muscle control and eventual death. Chronic wasting disease is always fatal for the afflicted animal. The disease cannot be diagnosed by observation of physical symptoms because many big game diseases affect animals in similar ways.

The Game, Fish and Parks Commission recently created regulations for the transportation and disposal of deer and elk carcasses from other states and from hunting units within South Dakota’s confirmed CWD areas. The new regulations will not go into effect until 2020.

“With the discovery of CWD in Bennett County, we encourage hunters to contact GFP if they have concerns with any deer they harvest,” said Griffin. “We will do our best to test deer if hunters have worries, especially if they have harvested deer in and around the areas where CWD is present.”

For more information on CWD and to determine if you should have your deer tested, visit