CWD Update from QDMA: New Infection Areas, #FightCWD and More

Our friends at the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) have updated information on chronic wasting disease.

As we all work through our respective hunting seasons, it’s inevitable that chronic wasting disease (CWD) will be on the minds of hunters around the country. Maybe you hunt in a known CWD area and wonder if the meat you harvest is safe to feed your family. You could be traveling to a new area to hunt, one with positive CWD cases, and wondering how you should change your field procedures. Or maybe, like many of us at the onX office here in Montana, you’re watching more and more counties test positive for CWD and realizing you’ll need to change your hunting routine.

In our latest CWD blog post, we covered what you need to know if you’re hunting in a known CWD area. If you need a refresher on what CWD is—beyond something that seemingly complicates your hunting process—here’s a reminder:

A neurodegenerative disease resulting in abnormal behavior, loss of body condition and eventual death, CWD is a prion disease with a non-living vector. Prions are an abnormal form of a typically-harmless protein found in the brain and are responsible for a variety of neurodegenerative diseases in both animals and humans. These diseases occur when normal protein folds and “clumps” in the brain, causing brain damage. Scientists are still uncertain what causes the clumping, and the disease is almost impossible to test for in living animals; many diseased cervids (members of the deer family) may show no signs of the disease for several years yet still actively be spreading CWD.

Image of deer in a field, viewed through a blind.

The QDMA team is constantly hard at work on this complex issue and has recently confirmed new cases in several popular hunting areas that had previously demonstrated negative CWD presence. These new locations include:

- A new region of Mississippi, on the opposite side of the state from previous cases
- Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
- Oregon County, Missouri—70 miles from any previously-known positive cases
- Quebec, Canada

CWD check station locations can be found by contacting your state fish and wildlife regional offices. Some states, such as Michigan, have an online map detailing check stand locations—a quick web search will often provide the locations of drop boxes, testing sites and check stations in your hunting area. For the actual testing process, the head with the upper portion of the neck (one or two vertebrae) attached is needed; the head should not be frozen or rotten.

We’ve partnered with the QDMA this past year to release a layer in the onX Hunt App designed to help hunters identify where CWD is present. This layer is updated as the QDMA team confirms new counties and shares that data with onX, ensuring you have the most up-to-date information on your hands.

The QDMA team has also compiled a large amount of information on the disease and how it applies to hunters, herd management techniques and conservation.

Image of deer in a field.

Research is active and ongoing. Most recently, the QDMA is working with the CWD Alliance and the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at Case Western Reserve University on research projects to increase our knowledge of CWD and enhance our management options.

The QDMA recently launched their #FightCWD campaign, helping raise CWD awareness and the steps hunters can take to harvest meat safely and responsibly while combating the disease. A recent article on their site offers a comprehensive guide to steps every hunter can take to fight CWD.

Hunter education is a large part of the fight against CWD, and at the end of the day the campaign is designed to preserve a resource we all value—deer and elk.


Access The onX CWD Layer


header image: Heartland Bowhunter