Arizona Game and Fish Department has completed testing of deer and elk for Chronic Wasting Disease for the 2011 hunting season. Chronic Wasting Disease attacks the brain of deer, elk, and moose causing weight loss, abnormal behavior and death. The department tested 1,185 deer and elk during the 2011 hunting season and did not detect CWD. However, the continued vigilance of hunters is essential for the department’s effective monitoring of CWD in deer and elk. Testing will resume this fall.

Game and Fish began testing for CWD in Arizona in 1998. CWD has been found in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, but no cases have been detected yet in Arizona. There is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

The areas of highest concern include Game Management Unit 12B, which borders Utah, and GMUs 1 and 27, which border New Mexico.  However, all hunters are invited to participate in the monitoring by bringing the heads of deer or elk recently harvested statewide to any Game and Fish Department office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and at additional locations around the state.

Information regarding sample collection sites will be available after August 15th.There is no charge for testing and notification of results. Hunters will be asked to provide details about the county and game management unit in which the animal was harvested, the hunt and permit number, hunting license, and the hunter’s address and phone contact information. Test results will be available in six to eight weeks online at, click “Chronic Wasting Disease Test Results” link on the right side of the page.

“Participation of hunters, taxidermists and meat processors is crucial for effective CWD surveillance program,” said Carrington Knox. “Collection of samples from elk and deer hunters is an essential element for successful CWD monitoring efforts.”

CWD is a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to cervids, including deer, elk and moose. Symptoms of CWD include emaciation or weight loss, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination. Animals with CWD may also stumble, tremble, have trouble walking, or appear listless.

Precautions for keeping CWD out of Arizona

CWD has been reported in several neighboring states, including Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. To prevent CWD from entering Arizona, when hunting deer and elk in other states it important to take these precautions before returning to Arizona with deer or elk harvests:

  • Do not cut into the spinal cord or remove the head.
  • Do not quarter (or other method) the carcass with any of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Do not bring the brain, intact skull or spinal cord into Arizona.
  • Bone out the harvested deer or elk meat and package it, either commercially or privately before entering Arizona.

There are no restrictions on returning to Arizona with out-of-state harvests of animal hides and skull plates cleaned of all tissue and washed in bleach. Heads from a taxidermist, sawed-off antlers and ivory teeth may also be brought into Arizona from out-of-state hunts.

Since 2002, the department has also had rules in place restricting the movement of captive deer and elk into or within Arizona, as well as subjecting the animals to marking and reporting requirements.

For information about chronic wasting disease, visit or

Logo courtesy of the Arizona Game and Fish Department

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