Guidelines for Disposing Deer and Elk Carcasses
- How Can I Dispose of Deer and Elk Carcasses and Bones?
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) has been in contact with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and with the Department of Agriculture regarding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) issues. These departments concur with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission that currently there is no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans or to other species other than deer or elk.
The NDEQ recommends the unprocessed remains of deer and elk be handled using latex or rubber gloves. The waste remains should be double bagged in strong garbage bags and disposed of in a permitted municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill. Care should be taken when handling and transporting the waste so the containers are not ruptured. 1
- Landfilling Recommendations
The MSW landfill may use the normal practice of disposal at the working face of the fill area with the addition of six inches of daily cover for small quantities of deer and elk carcasses. If large quantities of carcasses are delivered to the landfill for disposal, it is recommended that a burial pit be utilized for accepting the waste and covering the waste with four feet of fill soil. 1
There is a consensus among state health and environmental officials that handling and disposal of deer and elk carcasses at municipal solid waste landfills poses little threat to landfill workers or the environment. Handling should be done using normal procedures outlined in the landfill permit.
If you have further questions about landfilling recommendations, please contact the NDEQ at (402) 471-4210.
General Information on CWD
- What Is It?
Chronic Wasting Disease, often referred to as CWD, appears to be a prion disease that attacks the central nervous system and causes fatal damage to the brain of white-tailed deer, mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk. CWD is similar to, but significantly different from, scrapie (documented in domestic sheep for over 400 years), Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE and often referred to as mad cow disease) and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease found in humans. All of these diseases attack the central nervous system and cause small holes to form in the brains of infected animals.2
- Can Humans Be Infected with CWD?
There is currently no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating the meat of infected animals. The Center for Disease Control has conducted an exhaustive study of CWD and human risk and has stated: "The risk of infection with the CWD agent among hunters is extremely small, if it exists at all". However, as we are still learning about this disease, the Commission recommends that hunters take precautions to limit risks. First and foremost, do not harvest any animal that appears sick or is acting strange.
Note the animal's location and contact the Commission. Avoid cutting or puncturing the spinal cords or brains of animals taken in the areas where CWD occurs. Do not use house-hold utensils to field dress or process your deer. Wear rubber or latex gloves when handling any harvested animal. 2
- Can the Disease Spread to Other Animals, Such As Cattle?
Again, there is no indication or scientific evidence that the disease can spread to species other than deer or elk, but research in this area continues. Studies have shown that cattle placed in close and confined proximity with infected deer and elk have not developed the disease. 2
1 The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
2 The Nebraska Game and Parks Chronic Wasting Disease Information and Education Center