RALEIGH, N.C. – No evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected in the state’s wild white-tailed deer herd, according to biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
As part of their annual CWD surveillance effort during the 2020-21 sampling season, wildlife biologists collected 1,042 deer tissue samples across the state from hunters, meat processors, taxidermists, road-kills and sick deer. The samples were sent to the Wisconsin Veterinarian Diagnostic Lab, a USDA approved laboratory for testing.
“Our sampling size was lower than the previous two years, likely due to COVID-19,” stated Jon Shaw, wildlife biologist with the Wildlife Commission. “However, the results are good news for North Carolina hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists. CWD is the single biggest concern for deer herds and deer hunting in North America. CWD surveillance indicates our state is doing a great job managing limiting exposure to this highly contagious illness.”
But these results are cautiously optimistic. Despite best efforts, the risk of CWD entering the state cannot be eliminated.
“The Commission is committed to protecting the state’s deer and elk herds with early detection being paramount to managing the disease if found in North Carolina,” Shaw noted.
The Commission began testing for CWD in 1999, and increased surveillance after CWD was recorded east of the Mississippi River in 2002. The agency conducted systematic statewide surveillances in 5-year intervals beginning in 2003, with some opportunistic sampling occurring in off-years. In 2018, biologists adopted an annual surveillance strategy to improve detection of CWD by collecting more samples overall, and also prioritizing sampling of higher risk individuals, such as road-killed and older deer. CWD has not been detected in more than 15,255 samples collected and tested across the state to date.
CWD is a transmissible, always fatal, neurological disease that affects deer and other cervids such as elk, moose and reindeer/caribou. Currently, three Canadian provinces and 26 states, including neighbors Tennessee and Virginia, have documented CWD.
Hunters who submitted samples with their harvest authorization number can view CWD test results by clicking on “View My Past Harvests” on the agency’s Big Game Harvest Reporting webpage.