Understanding Chronic Wasting Disease in South Dakota

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological condition affecting deer and elk populations. The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) has monitored this disease since 1997, tracing its prevalence and spread throughout the state. To date, CWD has been identified in free-ranging deer and elk across numerous counties, including within Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park. Detailed distribution maps and further information can be accessed at under "Related Maps."

Carcass transportation and disposal regulations are in effect for deer and elk harvested within South Dakota, especially if they are transported from the county of harvest or from another state into South Dakota. Detailed regulations and guidelines are available on page 113 of the GFP site or directly at

The surveillance strategy aims to identify the spread of CWD to new areas, particularly where it hasn't been detected in wild populations. For comprehensive details on the surveillance program and how you can contribute, visit the GFP website or contact any GFP office.

Hunters play a crucial role in this effort and can volunteer to get their harvested deer or elk tested for CWD. Though voluntary, hunters are responsible for certain costs associated with sample submission, unless it's delivered directly to a GFP office or via provided testing kits. The GFP covers the testing costs at the South Dakota State University Animal Disease Research and Diagnostics Lab (SDSU ADRDL), with results shared with both the hunter and GFP. This not only aids individual hunters but also enhances the state's overall surveillance efforts.

By understanding CWD, its impact, and following best practices for testing and carcass disposal, hunters can significantly contribute to controlling this disease. For a guide on sample collection, submission processes, and proactive measures against CWD, visit the Chronic Wasting Disease section on Your participation is vital in managing and mitigating the impact of CWD on wildlife in South Dakota.

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