Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a highly contagious neurological disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer, and moose. CWD is progressive with symptoms that range from asymptomatic to listlessness, ear droop, altered gait, excessive salivation, teeth grinding, a wasting body composition, and ultimately death. It is thought to be transmitted through body fluids and contaminated soil, food, and water.

First detected in captive deer facilities in the late 1960’s, CWD spread to free ranging, wild herds by 1981. As of April 2022, CWD has been identified in 29 U.S. states, 4 Canadian provinces, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and South Korea.



Positive cases of chronic wasting disease are on the rise and studies have shown that CWD can remain in the environment for years. CWD can be detrimental to food security, cultural and spiritual practices, and economic well-being. Surveillance on Tribal lands is crucial for managing the impacts and spread.


The Native American Fish & Wildlife Society recognizes the threat of CWD to Tribal lands and their citizens. In 2021, NAFWS developed the Chronic Wasting Disease Project to aid Tribal natural resources personnel to manage CWD on Tribal lands. NAFWS staff hosted an informational webinar, in-person trainings at regional and national conferences, and developed a brochure for Tribes to use to educate their citizens.

CWD Project

With funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), NAFWS provided technical support, educational materials, trainings, and sampling kits and laboratory testing for 10 CWD samples from 50 Tribes in the lower 48 states. Sign up for this project has ended.

NAFWS Resources

CWD Webinar
CWD Brochure

More CWD Resources

CWD | Center for Disease Control
USGS CWD Distribution
Recommendations for Hunters
Recommendations for Hunters
Surveillance Optimization Project
CWD News
National Deer Association Newsletter


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In Recognition of Their Support

The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society would like to thank those organizations that provided us with support over the years. With them we grew an effective national communications network for the exchange of information and management techniques related to self-determined tribal fish and wildlife management.

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