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Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic Wasting Disease
Elk in a field.

Mandatory CWD Testing

2018 CWD Testing Requirements

CPW will require mandatory submission of CWD test samples (heads) from all buck deer harvested during rifle seasons from select GMUs.​

Read more about CWD and what GMUs ​are affected in the 2018 Mandatory CWD Testing Information​ flyer.​​​

Mandatory CWD testing Information flyer

Chronic Wasting Disease Testing Submission Information

Please have your head submission number ready.​

Hunters can access test results online using the Test Results Database, or by calling their local Area Office or CPW Customer Service at (303) 297-1192. 

How and where do I submit my head?

For the most recent year's information on submission guidelines, locations, and schedules, see Submission Information page.

If you have any questions ​​regarding our results​, please contact your regional Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Mule deer doe.

What is Chronic Wasting Disease?

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. It belongs to a family of diseases caused by prions (misfolded protein). This particular prion disease attacks the brains of infected deer, elk and moose, causing the animals to display abnormal behavior, become uncoordinated and emaciated, and eventually die.​

Colorado Parks and Wildlife researchers and biologists have studied chronic wasting disease on numerous fronts - their work and expertise on this disease is recognized both nationally and internationally.

To read more in depth about CWD in Colorado, see our scientific publications on the CWD Research Articles page.​​​​​

Where is This Disease Found?

Chronic wasting disease occurs in free-ranging and captive cervids (members of the “deer” family) in several parts of North America, including Colorado. 

For a summary of chronic wasting disease prevalence estimates in Colorado, by data analysis unit (DAU), for adult elk, mule deer, whitetailed deer and moose, click on the CWD Prevalence Estimates chart.

For relative rates of infection by game management unit in Colorado, see the All Species Maps.

Prevalence Estimates

CWD Prevalence Chart

All Species Map


Chronic Wasting Disease Management

The Colorado Park and Wildlife’s disease management efforts are focused on:

  • ​Preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease beyond historically infected areas.

  • Reducing chronic wasting disease prevalence within infected areas by ​removing deer and elk from some affected herds.

  • Enforcing illegal feeding regulations and transport laws restricting the movement of deer, elk and moose from infected areas or into the state.

  • Continuing research in conjunction with other agencies and states to further knowledge to manage affected deer, elk and moose herds.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


Public Health Issues

Disease in humans resulting from CWD exposure has not been reported to date. However, there may be a small risk from eating meat from infected animals. Consequently, public health officials recommend that people avoid exposure to CWD-infected animals. 

Please see the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website​ for the most current recommendations on carcass testing and other preventive measures. 

To minimize exposure to CWD and other diseases of potential concern, CPW and state public health officials advise hunters not to shoot, handle or consume any deer, elk or moose that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick. When field-dressing game, wear rubber gloves and minimize the use of a bone saw to cut through the brain or spinal cord (backbone). Minimize contact with brain or spinal cord tissues, eyes, spleen, or lymph nodes. Always wash hands and utensils thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.

What Portions of Deer, Elk and Moose Should be Consumed?

Strong evidence suggests that abnormal proteins, called prions, cause chronic wasting disease in deer and elk. Research indicates that the prions naturally accumulate in certain parts of infected animals -- the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, pancreas and spleen - relatively early in the course of disease, well before the animal is visibly ill. However, abnormal prions also can accumulate in a wider variety of tissues and organs, including kidney, lung, heart, and muscle.

Simple Precautions to Avoid CWD Contamination

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact a Colorado Parks and Wildlife office if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.

  • Wear rubber gloves when field dressing and processing animals.

  • Bone out the meat from your animal, and minimize handling of brain and spinal tissues.

  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.

  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, pancreas and lymph nodes of harvested animals. Normal field dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.

  • Do not consume meat or organs from animals known to be infected with CWD.

  • Knives, saws and cutting table surfaces can be disinfected by soaking in a solution of 50 percent unscented household bleach and 50 percent water for an hour. Thoroughly rinse all utensils in water to remove the bleach. Afterward, allow them to air dry.​​

Help prevent the spread of CWD

​One important step all Coloradans can take is to become informed on the importance of not feeding deer and other wildlife. Feeding big game is bad for wildlife and dangerous for people.​ This is an extremely important element for preventing the spread of CWD. Feeding wildlife not only creates dependency on humans, but can also help propagate the spread of CWD in these animals.


​​Coloroado Department of public Health & Environments​​

​Similar Prion Diseases

Chronic wasting disease belongs to the family of prion diseases, also known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. 

Within this family of diseases, there are three that affect cloven-hoofed animals: scrapie in domestic sheep and goats, which has been recognized for more than 200 years; bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle (sometimes referred to as "Mad Cow Disease"); and chronic wasting disease in deer, elk and moose. 

There also are two main forms of prion disease that affect humans: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which occurs naturally in about one out of every one million people in Colorado and elsewhere around the world; and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which has been linked to human exposure to the large-scale outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle herds in Great Britain and Europe (​).

For more information about prion diseases, please visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment​s website​.​​​