INDIANA – This year, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will continue to provide free testing for hunters interested in having their deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD).
Although CWD has not been detected in Indiana, the serious neurological disease has been found close to our state’s borders in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. CWD affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. CWD is fatal in these species. The disease is spread through bodily fluids like feces, saliva, blood, or urine and is transmitted either through direct contact or indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, plants, food, or water. CWD is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people.
Hunters may voluntarily submit samples for testing at select Fish & Wildlife areas (FWAs) and state fish hatcheries (SFHs) throughout the hunting season. Deer heads can be dropped into designated coolers at select FWAs and SFHs, or hunters may make an appointment for their harvested deer to be sampled by a biologist during office hours.
Tongue tags will also be available for hunters who wish to have their deer’s head-mounted and sampled for CWD – just follow the guidance provided at designated coolers or given by DNR staff. Testing results will available online.
Hunters are also able to independently submit their deer to the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab (ADDL) for testing for a fee. Hunters should complete the submission form and follow the shipping instructions on ADDL’s website.
Hunters who submit a deer for CWD testing will receive a metal tag that is reminiscent of Indiana’s historical deer harvest confirmation process. The tag will be mailed to them at the end of the deer season.