Update on Chronic Wasting Disease in North Dakota | The Mighty 790 KFGO

NDGF Mule Deer

By Doug Leier

Even if you don't hunt, I hope you've at least heard of chronic wasting disease. If not, let's start today.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease of deer, elk and elk that, if left unchecked, can lead to long-term population declines. There is no treatment or cure, and once the disease takes hold in an area, it will persist indefinitely. For these reasons, CWD poses a major threat to North Dakota's deer, elk and elk and the future of hunting these animals.

Combating CWD is a long-term endeavor that requires dedicated and diligent efforts from all North Dakotans who care about these big game animals. Through our collective commitment to the cause, we can protect these important species and North Dakota's hunting heritage.

A deer infected with CWD will not look sick until the late stages of the disease, several months after infection. Most positive deer found in North Dakota looked healthy when they were killed. Testing is the only way to know if your animal is infected with CWD. Test results are also critical to determining the prevalence of CWD and evaluating the success of the department's management strategy.

Following the completion of the 2023 chronic wasting disease surveillance season, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reported 11 deer testing positive.

“The good news is that all of these cases are from units where CWD has already been detected. None came from the southeastern part of the state, where we focused our surveillance efforts,” said Dr. Charlie Bahnson, the department's wildlife veterinarian. “However, CWD has been detected just across our border in eastern Manitoba near Winkler and again near Climax, Minnesota, where it was first detected in 2021.”

The positive cases identified in 2023 came from units 3A1, 3A2, 3E1, 3E2 and 3F2.

Casey Anderson, chief of the agency's wildlife division, said that despite lower hunting success, the agency met its monitoring goal in Units 2B, 2G and 2G1. The goal is to reach a sampling target of 10% of the deer hunting licenses allocated for a given year.

Game and Fish will use its 2023 surveillance data to guide future CWD control.

For more information about CWD, visit the department's website at

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Welcome to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website.

Anna Harden

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