News from the DNR Office of Communications

Maryland Deer Test Negative For Chronic Wasting Disease

Annapolis, Md. - Recent laboratory test results confirmed no evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Maryland’s deer herd. Brain and lymph node tissue samples collected from 996 deer during the 2008-2009 Maryland Deer Hunting Season revealed no signs of the disease. Additional samples collected from sick or injured deer also showed no signs of the disease. Since 2002, over 5,600 Maryland deer have been tested and confirmed as CWD-free.

CWD is a neurological disease that is fatal to white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. Similar to “Mad Cow Disease” in cattle, the disease attacks the brain and spinal cord of deer and is believed to be caused by prions, rogue proteins that destroy healthy tissue. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy and is not known to be transmissible to humans.

“CWD surveillance remains an agency priority and is essential to maintaining a healthy deer herd,” said DNR’s Assistant Deer Project Leader George Timko. “DNR biologists will continue to collect and test tissue samples from hunter-harvested deer as well as from sick and injured animals in each of Maryland’s 23 counties.”

Originally discovered in Colorado in 1967, CWD was thought to be a disease unique to western deer, elk, and moose. Since then, monitoring by state, federal, and provincial wildlife agencies has detected the disease in 15 states and two Canadian provinces. CWD has been confirmed in free-ranging deer in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. It has also been found in captive animals in Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. CWD is also confirmed in free ranging and captive deer in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Additional CWD information is available on the DNR website at and on The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance web site (

   June 3, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at