Help Our Herd!
What you can do to help keep New Hampshire’s Deer and Moose safe from Chronic Wasting Disease.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious, always fatal, neurological disease that impacts deer, moose, and other members of the deer family, for which there is currently no vaccine or cure. By the year 2000, CWD had only been detected in North America in six U.S. states and one Canadian province in both wild and captive deer herds. As of 2016, CWD has been detected in 24 states, two Canadian provinces, and in two areas outside of North America (Korea and Norway). Once CWD is documented in wild populations, the only management option is containment of the disease.
Please Don't Feed Deer!
The artificially high deer densities associated with feeding create the potential for increased spread and prevalence of CWD, both from infected feed and close contact among individual deer. Deer feeding provides limited benefits to deer but adds significantly to the risk that disease could be spread more quickly and widely. Learn more...
Containment programs typically consist of drastic reductions of deer populations in areas where the disease has been documented. Lower deer densities reduce the risk of disease transmission among animals, reduce the prevalence of the disease within the population, and slow (but not stop) the spread of the disease. Management actions and increased disease surveillance associated with CWD outbreaks often costs state management agencies millions of dollars. In addition, license sales and revenue can decline due to increased concern for the disease and hunter dissatisfaction due to reduced deer densities.
CWD has the potential to have devastating long-term impacts on deer populations and in some states these impacts are beginning to be realized. In some CWD positive areas of Wyoming and Colorado prevalence of the disease has exceeded 50% and resulted in population declines. A recent study in Wyoming found that CWD-infected deer had a mortality rate 4.5 times greater than uninfected animals. In portions of Wisconsin the prevalence rate in mature bucks has exceeded 30%, which will have dramatic impacts on buck age structure in the near future (Remember, CWD is ALWAYS FATAL). Because there is no vaccine or cure for CWD the best line of defense is to prevent CWD from ever reaching our state and New Hampshire hunters can do their part to help protect the state’s deer and moose populations from this terrible disease.
Here's What You Can Do To Help:
- Do not use natural urine-based attractants while hunting.
- Make sure to follow New Hampshire’s carcass importation restrictions when hunting deer in other states and provinces.
- When hunting in another state, check to see what local regulations are regarding CWD.
- Share this information with other hunters to help ensure New Hampshire remains CWD-free.
New Hampshire Carcass Importation Restrictions
NH Fish and Game prohibits the importation into the state of hunter-killed cervid* carcasses or parts of carcasses from jurisdictions in which CWD has been detected, except for de-boned meat, antlers, antlers attached to skull caps from which all soft tissue has been removed, upper canine teeth (a.k.a. buglers, whistlers or ivories), hides or capes with no part of the head attached, and finished taxidermy mounts. (*Cervids are animals belonging to the deer family including deer, moose, and elk.)
These regulations are designed to minimize the risk of New Hampshire's deer and moose being exposed to CWD through the importation of an infected animal, or the disposal of brain or nervous tissue, lymph nodes, bones and other tissue from an infected hunter killed animal. The disease agent of CWD, an abnormal protein called a prion, is very stable and could easily be spread if diseased deer parts were disposed of in our environment.
Although there is no direct evidence linking urine based lures to the spread of CWD there are a number of studies that have shown the infective protein – also known as a prion – that causes CWD is present in urine, feces, and saliva of infected animals.
In many cases urine for these lures is collected from animals held in pens over grates which collect a mixture of urine, feces, and saliva, the liquid portion is then strained out.
The urine for these lures is collected from captive deer facilities outside of New Hampshire, many of which are located in states where CWD is already present. Captive deer farms have been documented as being a high-risk source of possible exposure of CWD to wild deer populations.
Deer urine is not a regulated industry or product and federal regulations on captive deer farms are not sufficient to stop the spread of CWD. Captive farms can choose to voluntarily participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture CWD captive herd certification program, where they are certified as “low risk for CWD” if they have been monitored for at least five consecutive years without detection of the disease. However, there have been several cases where herds that were certified as “low risk for CWD” later tested positive for the disease. The first case of CWD in Pennsylvania was found in a captive facility that was certified as “low risk” and was selling urine-based deer lures.
These lures do not undergo any quality control or treatment that might inactivate or kill disease causing agents, and there is currently no testing of commercial lures for the presence of CWD prions.
Most hunters use small amounts of these lures, however, the infective prion is extremely stable and can persist in the environment for years as a source of possible infection. Therefore, there could be cumulative effects due to the continued application of urine based lures in the environment over time.
Several states and Canadian provinces have already banned use and possession of natural urine-based lures due to the potential health risks. These jurisdictions include:
- Pennsylvania (only in CWD Management areas)
- Nova Scotia
There are a number of effective synthetic deer lures on the market today which do not pose a risk of spreading disease to New Hampshire’s deer and moose populations. These synthetic deer lures can be used in place of natural urine based attractants.
List and Map of CWD-Positive Jurisdictions
*New Hampshire now permits importation of whole deer from New York. Regulations in Massachusetts and Vermont still prohibit the importation of deer carcasses from New York, however, and these regulations include the transport of New York-killed deer carcasses through these states. New Hampshire hunters are warned that simply crossing these states with a deer carcass from New York remains a violation and could result in legal prosecution. As a consequence, New Hampshire Fish and Game recommends that hunters continue the past practice of deboning New York deer.