What is Chronic Wasting Disease?  What animals get it? Is CWD harmful to humans? How is it spread? Where has CWD been found?  Read the answers to these questions and others from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. 

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)   

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) affects the brain and nervous system of infected cervids (deer, elk and moose) eventually resulting in death.

Current Status:

Following the detection of CWD in both captive and free-ranging deer in Pennsylvania, an executive order (PDF) was issued by the Game Commission to establish Disease Management Areas (DMAs). Within DMAs, rehabilitation of cervids (deer, elk and moose); the use or possession of cervid urine-based attractants in an outdoor setting; the removal of high-risk cervid parts; and the feeding of wild, free-ranging cervids are prohibited. Increased testing continues in these areas to determine the distribution of the disease. Newly confirmed cases alter the boundaries of DMAs as the Game Commission continues to manage the disease and minimize its effect on free ranging cervids.

In Pennsylvania, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected in these Disease Management Areas (DMAs): DMA 1 on a captive deer farm in Adams County during 2012 (DMA 1 has since been eliminated); DMA 2 in multiple free-ranging deer in Bedford, Blair, Cambria, and Fulton counties from 2012 -2017, and captive deer farms in Bedford, Franklin, and Fulton counties during 2017; DMA 3 in two captive deer farms in Jefferson County during 2014 and a free-ranging deer in Clearfield County during 2017. In addition, CWD has been detected in wild or captive deer and/or elk in many other states and provinces.

Rules and regulations regarding CWD in Pennsylvania are found in the Game Commission executive order (PDF) and Title 58 regulations.

 Public Meetings
  • Thursday, Sept. 28 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Penn State DuBois Student Union in the cafeteria, 1st floor of the Hiller building, sponsored by state Reps. Matt Gabler, Thomas Sankey and Cris Dush.
  • Thursday, Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. – Fayetteville Fire hall, sponsored by state Rep. Rob Kauffman. More information: 814-643-1831.
  • Thursday, Oct. 5 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Mahaffey Fire Hall, 958 Market St., sponsored by state Reps. Matt Gabler, Thomas Sankey and Cris Dush.​
  • Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. – McConnellsburg Fire hall, sponsored by state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. and state Rep. Jesse Topper. More information: 814-643-1831.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Locations of Cooperating Processors & Taxidermists, High-risk Parts Dumpsters, and Deer Head Collection (PDF)

To learn more about chronic wasting disease, and precautions in place to limit its influence on Pennsylvania’s wild deer populations, please explore the following:

For Hunters

You can help the Game Commission monitor and limit the impact of CWD. The threat of CWD is real. Your participation in this testing effort is critical to manage this serious disease. Taking actions today may help protect deer and deer hunting into the future.

FREE testing of deer taken in any DMA: If you harvest a deer in a Disease Management Area (DMA), please deposit the deer’s head, with your completed harvest tag affixed to the deer’s ear, at one of the head collection containers (marked as “H” or “HD” on the Interactive map and Printable list PDF). You will be notified of the test results.

Help us contain the spread of CWD: Please deposit high-risk parts from your deer in a high-risk parts disposal dumpster, marked with “D” or “HD” on the Interactive map and Printable list (PDF). High-risk parts include the head, lymph nodes, spleen, and spinal column. You may also dispose of any other deer parts not used by the hunter in these dumpsters.

DMAP permits in DMA 2 and DMA 3 have sold out for the 2017-18 seasons. The Game Commission created DMAP (Deer Management Assistance Program) units in DMA 2 and DMA 3 to focus hunter effort in areas where CWD-positive deer have been found. Although these DMAP permits can be used on public and private lands within the appropriate DMAP unit, hunters must receive permission from private landowners prior to hunting. The North Unit of DMAP 2 contains portions of southern Blair County and northwestern Bedford County. The South Unit of DMA 2 contains eastern Bedford County and most of Fulton County. DMAP Unit 3045 encompasses DMA 3 in totality.

Where can I take my deer? Interactive map.  Printable list (PDF).

For Taxidermists & Processors

If you are presented with a deer or elk harvested in CWD-infected areas, please contact the nearest Game Commission region office for guidance. A Game Commission representative may collect tissues, provide proper processing and disposal procedures, and supply information to educate hunters. Additional information is available for processors and taxidermists.

CWD in Pennsylvania