MDC thanks deer hunters for help with CWD sampling

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) thanks the many deer hunters who participated in its mandatory sampling efforts in 34 counties Nov. 13 and 14 to find cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in harvested deer. Thanks to hunter participation, MDC collected tissue samples of lymph nodes from more than 18,700 hunter-harvested deer for CWD testing.

CWD sampling consists of MDC staff cutting an incision across the throat of harvested deer to remove lymph nodes for testing. Lymph nodes in this area are one part of deer where CWD prions are concentrated. Tissue samples are sent to an independent lab for testing.

“We greatly appreciate the participation and support of the many thousands of hunters who presented their deer for CWD sampling during opening weekend,” said MDC Wildlife Health Program Supervisor Jasmine Batten. “Hunters play a very important role in MDC’s efforts to find and manage CWD in Missouri.”

According to MDC, the opening weekend of the November portion of firearms deer season is the most popular two days for most deer hunters in Missouri. Hunters typically harvest between a quarter to a third of the state’s total annual deer harvest during those two days. Focusing on this key weekend gives MDC the best opportunity to collect the most tissue samples for CWD testing during a very concentrated time period.

“The high number of samples collected during opening weekend gives MDC scientists a much better understanding of the distribution and prevalence of the disease — where it is and how many deer may have it,” Batten said. “It also helps us to find new cases in new areas as early as possible which is very important.”

Including the recent sampling efforts, MDC has collected more than 173,000 tissue samples for CWD testing since the disease was first detected in wild deer in Missouri in early 2012. To date, MDC has found 206 confirmed cases of CWD since sampling began. Learn more at under CWD Surveillance.

MDC is also offering statewide voluntary CWD sampling and testing of harvested deer during the entire deer season at select locations throughout the state. Locations include select MDC offices during regular business hours, cooperating taxidermists and meat processors (hours vary), and self-service freezers where hunters can leave deer heads for sampling and testing. Find sampling locations online at under Voluntary CWD Sampling.

Hunters can get free CWD test results for their deer online at Result times vary but may take up to approximately four weeks from the time of sampling.

CWD is a deadly, infectious disease in deer and other members of the deer family (cervids) that eventually kills all animals it infects. There is no vaccine or cure. CWD can be spread from direct deer-to-deer contact, through improper disposal of deer carcasses, and through the environment by deer contacting infectious material from other deer. Hunters play a critical role in helping MDC manage the disease by having their deer tested, following carcass-movement restrictions, and properly disposing of deer carcasses. Learn more at