(WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a reminder to hunters, to test their deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) before eating venison.

According to the Wisconsin DNR, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) all recommend against eating meat from deer that test positive for CWD.

Although there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans, infected deer typically appear healthy for many months after contracting the disease, officials say.

The DHS encourages testing for the disease regardless of the physical condition of the harvested deer, especially in areas prevalent with CWD.

The Wisconsin DNR adds that CWD can have an incubation period of over a year, which means infected deer can appear healthy for months before showing signs of illness.

CWD is a contagious, fatal neurological disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk, moose, and caribou. The common signs of an infected animal include drastic weight loss, drooped head and ears, loss of coordination, excessive salivation, and reduced fear of humans.

How to test your deer, provided by the DNR

  • Self-service kiosks open 24/7: Kiosks contain supplies for hunters to drop off their deer’s head with five inches of neck attached for testing. This is a great option for antlerless deer or any deer that has already been skull-capped or capped out by a taxidermist.
  • In-person with cooperating partners: Meat processors and other businesses can collect the deer head for sampling later or remove the lymph nodes at the time of drop-off. This is a good option for hunters who intend to mount their deer. If your taxidermist is not a cooperator, ask for the caped-out head back so you can drop it off at a kiosk.
  • At-home via lymph node sampling: Hunters unable to stop by a kiosk or cooperator within a day or two of harvest may pick up a kit ahead of time. Hunters can extract the retropharyngeal lymph nodes using the provided instructions and return the lymph nodes to the DNR or a kiosk for testing.
  • By appointment with local DNR staff: This is a good option for hunters who want to have a European mount done. Hunters can contact their local wildlife management staff to schedule an in-person appointment.

*These choices are free and accessible to every hunter in Wisconsin.

Accommodating testing locations can be found here. and more information about CWD can be found here.