Help Protect Northeast MO Deer from Chronic Wasting Disease

News from the region
Published Date

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is asking deer hunters and landowners in northeast Missouri to help limit the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) -- a disease fatal to deer -- through some Department recommendations and regulation changes.

The Department's focus on northeast Missouri is in response to several dozen deer from Linn, Macon, and Adair counties testing positive for the deadly disease over the past few years. The disease has also been found in a buck harvested in Cole County last year.
MDC considers 15 counties around Adair, Cole, Linn, and Macon to be at high risk for the spread of the disease. The 19 counties therefore comprise the Department's CWD management zone. The 11 northeast counties are: Adair, Chariton, Knox, Linn, Macon, Putnam, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, and Sullivan. The eight central-Missouri counties are: Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, and Osage.


MDC strongly encourages hunters in the 19 counties to: not move deer carcasses out of the area where harvested, not feed deer, have harvested deer tested for CWD, and report sick deer to local MDC staff.

The disease can be spread to new areas and infect additional deer through infected carcass parts or soil contaminated by infected carcass parts. MDC recommends removing meat in the field and leaving the carcass behind. If hunters must move a carcass before processing, place the remaining carcass parts after processing in trash bags and properly dispose of them through a trash service or landfill.

CWD is also transmitted from deer to deer and can spread more easily when deer gather in unnaturally concentrated numbers, such as at feeding sites or mineral blocks. MDC has a regulation in place for Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan counties that bans the feeding of deer or placing of mineral blocks.

Hunters can take harvested deer – or just the head with at least four inches of the neck attached -- to participating sampling locations to have a tissue sample removed and tested for CWD. Testing is free and hunters can also receive test results for their harvested deer. Sampling locations can be found in the Department's 2015 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, or on the MDC website at


The related regulation changes remove the antler-point restriction (APR) in the 19 counties of the MDC CWD management zone so young bucks are no longer protected from harvest. Young bucks can potentially spread the disease to new areas as they search for territories and mates.

The regulation changes also increase the availability of firearms antlerless permits from 1 to 2 in the 19 counties. These additional harvest opportunities can help prevent undesired population increases in local deer numbers, which can potentially spread the disease.


Chronic Wasting Disease infects only deer and other members of the deer family by causing degeneration of brain tissue, which slowly leads to death. The disease has no vaccine or cure and is 100-percent fatal.

"There is no way to fully eradicate chronic wasting disease from an area once it has become well established," explained MDC State Wildlife Veterinarian Kelly Straka. "While we do not expect short-term population impacts from the disease, CWD is likely to have serious long-term consequences to the health of Missouri's deer herd. Therefore, we have and will continue to focus on slowing the spread of the disease among deer in the affected areas, and trying to limit the spread to new areas of the state."


About 80 percent of Missouri deer hunters take their harvest during the fall firearms portion of deer season, which runs Nov. 14-24. Archery deer hunting continues through Nov. 13 and opens again from Nov. 25 through Jan. 15, 2016. The firearms antlerless portion will run Nov. 25 through Dec. 6. The firearms alternative methods portion will run Dec. 19-29 followed by the firearms late youth portion Jan. 2-3, 2016. Missouri's early youth weekend ran Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. The firearms deer urban zone portion ran Oct. 9 – 12.


Missouri offers some of the best deer hunting in the country and deer hunting is an important part of many Missourians' lives and family traditions. The continued spread of Chronic Wasting Disease in Missouri could reduce future hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities for Missouri's nearly 520,000 deer hunters and almost two million wildlife watchers. Deer hunting is also an important economic driver in Missouri and gives a $1 billion annual boost to the state and local economies. For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease, visit the MDC website at