MDC seeking public feedback on updates to its CWD plan

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is revising its surveillance and management plan for chronic wasting disease (CWD) and is seeking public feedback on the plan’s goals and objectives, and potential changes to deer hunting regulations.

According to MDC, white-tailed deer are an extremely important wildlife resource of the state and deer hunting is tremendously popular. Each year, nearly half a million hunters head to Missouri woods in pursuit of deer. This represents a tremendous boon to Missouri’s economy and supports thousands of jobs. Deer are also a favorite species for photographers and wildlife viewers, attracting thousands of visitors annually to Missouri’s public lands.

CWD is a fatal, contagious, disease of white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, known as cervids. The disease is 100% fatal to deer and there is no known cure, treatment, or vaccine. The disease can be spread from deer to deer through direct contact and when deer encounter the disease-causing agent after it has entered the environment from an infected deer.

According to MDC, CWD poses a direct threat to the health of Missouri’s deer population, making efforts to manage the disease critically important. MDC developed its first CWD Surveillance and Management Plan after detecting the first cases of the disease in 2010 in northcentral Missouri. Following the detection of CWD in other areas of the state, MDC updated its CWD Surveillance and Management Plan in 2015.

With the continued detection of CWD in new areas and expanding distribution where the disease exists, MDC is again revising its CWD Surveillance and Management Plan to ensure that surveillance and management efforts adapt to changing disease dynamics.

“With the changes we’re seeing in the distribution of CWD in our state, it’s important that our approach to disease surveillance and management adapts as well,” said MDC Cervid Program Supervisor Jason Isabelle.

The main areas of focus within the plan call for continued disease surveillance throughout the state, ensuring hunter service testing demands are met, communication, conducting applied research, monitoring disease distribution in affected areas, and applying management actions to limit further spread of the disease. 

As part of the plan revision, MDC is considering some changes to deer-hunting regulations for the 2023 deer hunting season. Proposed regulation changes include:

  • Increasing the maximum number of firearms antlerless deer hunting permits that a hunter could fill from two to four in select counties,
  • Creating a three-day early antlerless portion of firearms deer season in select counties that would begin on a Friday in early-to-mid October, and
  • Creating a five-day CWD portion of firearms deer season in select CWD Management Zone counties that would begin the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

“The proposed changes to deer hunting regulations are designed to offer hunters greater opportunities to harvest deer to help manage CWD and assist with meeting deer-management goals,” said Isabelle. “Hunting is the primary tool to achieve deer population goals and hunters play a critically important role in helping to manage CWD.”

For more information on CWD, MDC’s ongoing efforts to manage CWD in Missouri, and to read and comment on the draft CWD Surveillance and Management Plan goals and objectives, and proposed changes to deer hunting regulations, visit MDC online at