- Explore chronic wasting disease
Know CWD [exit DNR] General information about CWD in Wisconsin including common misconceptions.
- Contact information
- For information on CWD, contact:
- Timothy Marien
CWD Wildlife Biologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) can be spread among deer by both direct contact between animals and exposure to environments contaminated with CWD prions, the protein that causes the disease. Exposure to an area where a CWD-positive carcass has decomposed could be enough to cause infection in deer. Because of this risk, it is important that the carcasses of deer possibly infected with CWD, including all bones and other waste from butchering, be disposed of in a way that protects uninfected deer from exposure. While there are some disposal methods that destroy prions, such as incineration at 1800° F or digestion in sodium hydroxide, these methods are cost-prohibitive and not practical for most people.
Recommendations for hunters
The following, in order of efficacy and practicality, are the recommended options that hunters should use when disposing of deer-carcass waste.
- The preferred option available is disposal in a landfill that accepts deer waste. Landfills are a safe and cost-effective option for disposing of carcass waste potentially contaminated with CWD-causing prions. Landfill disposal establishes a barrier between uninfected deer and deer-carcass waste that potentially contains infectious CWD material. Scientific research has shown that when properly disposed of in a landfill, prions are extremely unlikely to migrate from the landfill disposal site. For most people, disposal in a landfill would be accomplished either by taking that waste directly to the landfill or through their regular trash pick-up service.
- While landfilling is preferred, another option is to bury the carcass waste. It should be buried deep enough to prevent scavengers from digging it back up. This method effectively removes the waste from the open environment and, again, places a barrier between uninfected deer and the source of infection.
- Finally, as a last resort, and only on their own land, hunters can put their deer-carcass waste back on the landscape. This should be done as close to where the deer was harvested as possible and within the CWD-affected area or an adjacent county. Persons using this option should also, if possible, put the carcass waste in a location where other deer and scavengers are unlikely to encounter it. At no time should the head, spine or other restricted portions of deer harvested within a CWD-affected county be moved or disposed of outside of the CWD-affected area or an adjacent county. As a reminder, it is illegal to dispose of waste on any public lands or road right-of-ways. As in the rest of the state, field dressing a deer and leaving the gut pile on site on public or private land is still permitted. Although gut piles pose a risk of transmitting CWD, evidence indicates that the risk is minimal due to their short persistence time on the landscape due to high rates of scavenging.
Sick deer guidance
If a person sees a sick deer the DNR is interested in testing the deer for CWD and can help the individual dispose of the carcass if shot. Please view the sick deer guidance for additional information.