SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Natural Resource (IDNR) is reminding deer hunters of locations where deer can be tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) free of charge during the 2023-2024 hunting season.

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Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease of the central nervous system in deer and elk. It was first detected in a suspect adult female deer from northwest Boone County in 2002. Since then, 162,099 wild deer have been sampled statewide, and 1,752 individual deer tested positive for CWD. The disease is currently confined to a 19-county area in the northern third of Illinois.

Wildlife biologists monitor the geographic distribution and intensity of CWD primarily through testing of hunter-harvested deer. Chronic wasting disease is not transmissible to humans; however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend consuming CWD-positive venison, or deer meat.

Hunters can visit participating vendors, including taxidermists and meat processors, or drop deer heads at self-serve drop-off sites. A list of locations is available online. Locations also can be found on IDNR’s Hunt Illinois app or through an online interactive map.

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Hunters in CWD counties are strongly encouraged to have their deer tested. Hunters who plan to have their deer mounted can have a cooperating taxidermist collect the sample; testing procedures will not damage the deer skull. Hunters not using a cooperating taxidermist can bring the caped-out head to an IDNR sample drop-off barrel location where available.

Firearm deer hunters in CWD counties can get a voluntary sample taken by a biologist when they bring harvested deer to mandatory physical check stations during the regular 2023 firearm seasons Nov. 17-19 and Nov. 30-Dec. 3. A map of check stations is available online. Hunters in non-CWD counties can use sample drop-off barrels or sampling vendors to have samples submitted for testing.

Hunters can view the results of their CWD tests online. Hunters will be contacted by an IDNR wildlife biologist if their deer tests positive for CWD.

Between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, IDNR’s wildlife disease program identified 369 CWD-positive deer in 18 Illinois counties, including Boone, Carroll, Cook, DeKalb, Grundy, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, Will, and Winnebago.

Go online for more information about CWD management in Illinois.

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