New Mexico Wildlife

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

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Disease Information 

Last Updated: 9/17/12

Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease/Western Wildlife Health Cooperative [PDF]


In September 2012, the Department expanded areas where hunters must observe special rules pertaining to the handling and transportation of big-game carcasses to all of Game Management Units 19, 28 and 34. Click here for more information.


Simple Precautions Advised

Public health officials advise hunters to take the following precautions when pursuing or handling deer and elk in the endemic area.

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish at (505) 476-8038 if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.
  • Wear rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses.
  • Bone out the meat from your animal.
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing is completed.
  • Avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils 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.)
  • Avoid consuming the meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.
  • Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from
    other animals being added to meat from your animal.
  • Hunters are advised not to eat certain parts of deer and elk. While the agent that produces chronic wasting disease in deer and elk has not been positively identified, there is strong evidence to suggest that abnormally shaped proteins, called prions, are responsible. Research completed by the Division of Wildlife and other agencies indicates that the prions accumulate only in certain parts of infected animals - the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils and spleen.
    Research also indicates that prions do not accumulate in muscle tissue. Based upon these findings, hunters are recommended to bone out their meat and consume only muscle tissue from animals harvested in endemic units.


Officer Pat Mathis performs biopsy of deer tonsil

Above: Officer Pat Mathis performs biopsy of deer tonsil.



Biopsy of deer

Above: Close Up:

Biopsy of deer tonsil.


Chronic Wasting Disease/Western Wildlife Health Cooperative [PDF]