• Ken Perrotte

Oh No! Chronic Wasting Disease Detected in Another Virginia County - a Spreading Menace


A third Chronic Wasting Disease management area is being established by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources after a 2.5-year-old male deer taken in southern Montgomery County was confirmed positive.


The deer was brought to a taxidermist in late November 2020 and DWR obtained the sample as part of statewide CWD surveillance efforts. According to DWR, the hunter did not notice any outward signs of disease at the time of harvest. The deer appeared to be in good condition. This deer was killed more than 160 miles from the closest prior detection in Madison County, a troubling fact. Due to the significant distance from the nearest known location with CWD-positive deer, the DWR conducted an “extensive forensic investigation” to confirm the location where the deer was taken.


The new disease management area (DMA3) includes Floyd, Montgomery and Pulaski counties. In addition, these counties will have new regulatory requirements, including prohibition on rehabilitating white-tailed deer fawns; restricted transport of whole deer carcasses and any parts containing brain or spinal cord tissue; and a year-round ban on feeding deer in Bland, Carroll, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Roanoke, and Wythe counties, and in the cities of Radford, Roanoke and Salem.


Additional regulation changes will be recommended at the upcoming May 27 meeting of the Board of Wildlife Resources. They include adding early and late antlerless-only deer seasons in an approximately 40-square-mile “Disease Focus Zone,” located near the spot where the deer was killed; extending the general firearms deer season from two to four weeks in Montgomery and Pulaski counties, matching Floyd’s existing general firearms season; and removing antler point restrictions from the Fairystone quality deer management area.

It is disheartening to see CWD appearing in new places, especially areas far removed from previous detection sites. Biologists, researchers and scientists are trying to develop protocols to slow its spread. The disease has been confirmed in 26 states and three Canadian provinces. Virginia has had 109 deer test positive since 2009. Certainly, there must be more out there going undetected.


Chronic Wasting Disease is a slow-acting, incurable illness, affecting deer, elk and moose in North America. Affected animals eventually die. The disease is spread through the urine, feces and saliva of infected animals. Clinical signs such as staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, confusion and marked weight loss typically do not develop for several months to more than a year.


There is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans, pets, or livestock (with the possible exception of pigs). Still, according to the best, current guidelines, hunters should test all deer killed in known CWD-positive areas and wait for results before eating the meat. Do not eat meat from animals that test positive.

See regulations pertaining to CWD, maps of affected states, and more at dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/disease/cwd.