Deer season is fast approaching, starting September 15 deer season will open up for archers across the state of Missouri with firearm portions opening up later in the year. However, since 2012, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has been testing deer around the state for chronic waste disease (CWD), which although it has not been proven to be fatal to humans, it is deadly to the deer it infects.
CWD in Missouri
CWD is a fatal, infectious disease that is easily spread between deer; there is no vaccine or cure for the animal once it has the disease. So far, scientists can’t find any cases of CWD infecting or harming people. However, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to test your deer anyway as well as not eating the deer if it tests positive for CWD, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In the past, MDC has worked to keep CWD limited throughout the deer population in Missouri, and so far they’ve done a pretty good job. In the past seven years, only 116 deer have been found to be infected by CWD out of the more than 100,000 deer that they’ve taken samples from.
Unfortunately, Illinois and Arkansas both have higher cases of CWD than Missouri, causing counties closer to the states to border more susceptible to CWD cases.
Arkansas has found 570 deer and elk to test positive for CWD from the 18,000 samples they’ve taken since 2016.  Illinois has also had over 500 CWD cases in the past 12 years, with the number steadily climbing- Illinois expects at least 31 deer to be found infected with CWD annually. 
However, even though MDC has managed to control the disease so far, they do have “management zones” around counties near, or where a CWD case was found. CWD Management Zone for this season include the following counties: 
- St. Charles
- St. Clair
- St. Francois
- Ste. Genevieve
If you don’t happen to live in one of those counties, from September 15 until January 15, you can still get your deer tested for CWD for free at a regional MDC office. However, if you do live in one of the listed counties and harvest a deer in the opening weekend of Novembers firearm season (November 16 an 17) you are required to take the head (with at least six inches of neck attached) of the harvested deer to one of MDC’s stations on the same day you killed the deer. To find a sampling station close to you click here and find your county on the list provided.
Go prepared when taking your deer to a CWD sampling station with the following steps.
- Field dress and Telecheck deer before arrival at a sampling station.
- Bring the carcass or just the head with at least six inches of the neck attached.
- Capes may be removed in preparation for taxidermy before going to a sampling station.
- The person who harvested the deer must be present.
- The hunter’s conservation number will be required, along with the specific location of harvest.
- If using a paper permit, have it detached from the deer for easy access.
- If using the MO Hunting app, have a permit and Telecheck information available.
- Position deer in vehicles with heads and necks easily accessible.
- ^“Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reports Chronic Wasting Disease-positive deer found in Scott County.” KTHV, 10 Sept. 2019, www.thv11.com/article/sports/outdoors/arkansas-game-and-fish-commission-reports-chronic-wasting-disease-positive-deer-found-in-scott-county/91-ce2cfd83-585a-4bdf-b57a-d56f625a9218. (go back↩)
- ^“CWD prevalence and surveillance – Wisconsin DNR.” 10 Sept. 2019, dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/prevalence.html. (go back↩)
- ^“MDC shares CWD info for upcoming deer season.” Missouri Department of Conservation, 10 Sept. 2019, mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-shares-cwd-info-upcoming-deer-season. (go back↩)