CWD Response Plans

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan, 2016

There are two primary forms of exposure to CWD for uninfected cervids: CWD infected cervids or from a CWD-contaminated environment. In areas where CWD is not established and where the environment is relatively uncontaminated, direct animal contact may be the most likely source of transmission of CWD to uninfected cervids (Arkansas Game & Fish Commission 2016). However, as CWD becomes established in an area, environmental contamination could become the primary source of infection as the number of CWD prions increases in the area.


1. CWD is an infectious prion disease, and claims to the contrary are not scientifically credible.
2. CWD is transmitted between animals by direct contact with infectious saliva, respiratory aerosols, urine, and feces. Infected animals are infectious for other
animals before they appear sick. Infected animals inevitably succumb, although the amount of time that takes to happen can vary from months to years.
3. CWD is also transmitted indirectly from contaminated items in the environment such as soils where it persists for decades.
Where the disease becomes established, environmental contamination likely drives CWD outbreaks perpetually, and may be the most critical factor limiting their control. Substantial environmental contamination with CWD may effectively define the threshold for when the disease is ‘established’.

Chronic Wasting Disease: Natural Deer Urine Attractants Illegal in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, July 2015

Why is the use of deer urine attractants risky?

  • The infectious proteins (i.e., prions) known to transmit CWD have been found in the urine, feces, and saliva of infected individuals. In experiments conducted in Colorado mule deer were able to catch CWD with no exposure other than the urine, feces, and saliva of infected individuals.
  • To make these commercial scents, urine from captive elk and/or deer kept outside of Virginia is collected over a grate system that does not prevent contamination from either feces or saliva. Many of these facilities are located in areas or states with CWD. There is no USDA-approved live animal test for CWD, nor is there a way to test urine for CWD prions once it has been collected, and so the collection facility has no way of knowing that their deer are CWD free.
  • The “urine” product is not treated chemically or with heat to kill the infectious proteins because these treatments would also secondarily destroy the desired scent characteristics.
  • The infectious proteins causing CWD are extremely resistant to degradation and may persist in the environment for years in contaminated soil, thereby posing a disease transmission risk to deer for extended lengths of time.

Maryland DNR, Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan, 2015

If additional CWD cases are detected in free-ranging deer within 5 miles of a Maryland border but outside any Maryland CWDMA, the primary objectives of the response effort will be to 1) increase CWD surveillance of those areas within Maryland that are nearest the out-of-state endemic area, and 2) communicate and coordinate with the public and other agencies on issues related to CWD and the actions being taken by DNR.

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