New CWD Unit Hunting Regulations Established To Aid In Efforts For Disease Management

Thursday, May 30, 2019

With Chronic Wasting Disease occurring in Tennessee, the TWRA has established the goal of keeping CWD from spreading, keeping the number of diseased deer in the affected area to a minimum, and reducing disease rates where possible. To achieve that goal, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established a CWD (chronic wasting disease) Unit with specific regulations to achieve our goals that are science-based and data-driven.

The aim of Unit CWD hunting regulations is to increase the deer harvest by empowering hunters to harvest more while targeting high-risk deer and allowing the agency to sample more deer to better understand the disease. Data collected to date indicates that bucks are twice as likely as does to have CWD. Older bucks are three times more likely to have CWD than younger bucks. Other research proves that bucks have a much larger home range so the likelihood of bucks transporting CWD to new areas is higher. For all these reasons, the harvest of bucks will help the most with accomplishing these goals; however the harvest of does is also very important since they can spread the disease as well. 

The following hunting regulation changes were made to Unit CWD counties to accomplish the above-stated objectives:

  • Earn-A-Buck
    • Tennessee’s antlered deer bag limit (2) did not change; therefore it still applies to hunters hunting Unit CWD as well as the rest of the state.
    • Only hunters hunting in Unit CWD counties may earn additional bucks.
    • Unit CWD hunters may earn up to two bucks for harvest, in addition to the statewide antler deer bag limit of two. 
    • Earned bucks are received by harvesting two Unit CWD antlerless deer, checking them in, submitting them for CWD testing, and being notified by TWRA.
    • Earn-A-Buck will increase the number of deer (does and bucks) harvested and the numbers of deer tested for CWD.
  • Replacement Bucks
    • Unit CWD hunters will receive a replacement buck if they harvest a CWD-positive buck and the lab result is confirmed by TWRA.  
    • There is no limit on the number of replacement bucks.
    • Replacement bucks will encourage hunters to continue hunting and harvesting and be an added incentive for hunters to have their deer tested for CWD. 
  • The August 3-day hunt now allows the use of muzzleloaders, in addition to archery, and applies to most public lands (Presidents Island in Shelby County is excluded).
  • Muzzleloader season will begin on October 28th in Unit CWD
  • Gun season will begin November 9th in Unit CWD
  • Antlered harvest allowed during the January 5-day private lands hunt (traditionally antlerless only)
  • Mandatory physical check stations on Nov. 2-3 and Nov. 9-10 for Unit CWD counties except Hardeman and Fayette.

The CWD hunting regulations only apply to CWD positive counties of Fayette, Hardeman, and Madison and CWD high-risk counties of Chester, Haywood, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton. Carcass export and wildlife feeding restrictions remain in place for Unit CWD.


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