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Sampling for chronic wasting disease

CWD sampling locations

CWD sampling will be offered at various locations throughout the state depending on the surveillance goals of that year. For a searchable list of all of the registration stations please view the sampling/registration station database.

The department will continue annual monitoring in both the endemic area of southern Wisconsin as well as new areas of the state to understand CWD distribution and prevalence. Statewide disease detection surveillance efforts took place in 2002-2003 and 2005-2008. For the past couple of years much of the statewide detection surveillance has transitioned to more efficient and cost-effective methods for disease detection. The department also continues actively surveying across the state by utilizing sick deer reports.

Statewide CWD sampling

Deer should be registered before being taken to a sampling station or hunters can use one of the stations which offers both sampling and electronic registration. Ideally, the samples should be taken as soon as possible after harvest. The samples needed for CWD testing are located near the base of the deer's skull and first several inches of neck. If the head/neck is kept at a refrigerated temperature (35°F to 45°F) it can be taken to a sampling station up to five days after harvest. If the time between harvest and sampling will be longer, then the head should be frozen until it can be taken in. When removing the head, a hand-width length of neck needs to remain in order to obtain the proper samples.

A deer that is going to have a shoulder mount done can still be tested for CWD. The deer should be registered, then taken to your taxidermist for caping and skull capping. Then the caped head can be brought to a cooperator for sampling. Please remember to follow all sample preservation guidelines in the paragraph above.

When the sample is taken in the hunter will be asked for some information including the following.

  • Deer harvest authorization number
  • DNR customer number
  • Contact information
  • Location of harvest

If there are no sampling stations available in your county please contact your local biologist to arrange sampling.

In terms of carcass movement the department does not intend to preclude hunters from moving a deer head and a hand-width length of neck outside of a CWD affected county if that head is being transported to an approved CWD sampling cooperator, self-service kiosk, or staffed CWD testing location for the purpose of submitting the head for removal of tissues for CWD testing. After sample tissue has been removed from deer heads submitted via these submission routes the heads will be disposed of properly.

Sampling kiosks

Kiosk used at Black Earth sampling station.

In various areas of the state, kiosks may be available as a sampling station option. The kiosks are set up as self-service 24/7 options for dropping off your deer head with a hand-width length of neck to be tested for CWD. A head can be brought to a kiosk up to five days after harvest if kept cool, longer if frozen. Some kiosks have freezers but not all. Kiosks may not be checked over a weekend so it is best to avoid using a kiosk at the start of a weekend if the weather is predicted to be warm.

When using a kiosk the following steps will need to be completed.

  1. A datasheet with the customer ID and harvest location identified will need to be filled out.
  2. The head and the first several inches of neck will be cut off and placed in a bag with the datasheet.
  3. Antlers will need to be removed from bucks.
  4. Heads are picked up routinely by department staff and entered into the normal processing of all CWD samples.


New for 2018. Individuals or organizations can sign-up and volunteer to sponsor a kiosk throughout the deer season, at a mutually agreed upon location with the DNR. Adopt-a-Kiosk (AAK) participants can choose to monitor a kiosk at the entry level, intermediate level, or advanced level, and participants can even volunteer to Construct-a-Kiosk to donate to the DNR. AAK participants are responsible for all costs and guidelines associated with their level of involvement, but DNR provides all kiosk supplies and participants receive DNR recognition and a certificate of appreciation at the end of the season. The main goal of the AAK program is to work with volunteers to enhance CWD sample numbers, ease and options for hunters. AAK locations are listed on the sampling station options webpage. Contact your local deer biologist, Eric Canania 608-341-9615 (southern district), Matt Esser 715-284-1417 (west central district), or Curt Rollman 715-369-9399 (northern and northeast districts) if you are interested in participating.

Northwest Wisconsin surveillance area

Field sampling at a registration station.

Central WI CWD surveillance areas

West Central Wisconsin surveillance area

Northeast Wisconsin surveillance area

Additional options for CWD testing

There are several options available to hunters who harvest a deer in an area where the department isn't able to provide surveillance testing, private veterinarian testing and testing done directly by WVDL.

Private veterinarian CWD testing program

The Hunter Service Testing Program is a cooperative effort between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association; Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the United States Department of Agriculture. This program is designed to provide CWD testing opportunities to hunters from areas of the state not already sampled as part of the DNR CWD surveillance effort. The program is built upon a network of private veterinary practitioners who are trained and approved to extract samples for CWD testing.

Each participating veterinarian will determine the fee that they will charge the hunter for sampling services and testing costs. The veterinarians will also decide when they will begin accepting requests for sampling and testing.

The following list of veterinarians [PDF] across the state provides details on those that may be able to sample registered, hunter killed deer for CWD. Hunters should contact veterinarians directly. Samples will be extracted at each participating clinic and sent to a USDA certified laboratory for testing. Results will be returned to the veterinarian who submitted the sample and shared with the DNR.

Testing deer at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (WVDL)

Hunters can choose to take their deer directly to WVDL to obtain CWD testing for a fee. Results will be sent directly to the hunter and shared with the DNR.

Last revised: Monday February 04 2019