CWD in Oklahoma
In 1998, CWD was confirmed in a captive elk herd in Oklahoma County which had originally been imported from Montana. The U.S. Department of Agriculture euthanized that herd to decrease the threat of the disease spreading into the surrounding free-ranging deer herd. Subsequent testing outside of the enclosure did not locate any positive animals. In April 2019, CWD was confirmed in one farmed Oklahoma elk in Lincoln County. ODWC announced it would step up surveillance in areas adjacent to the breeding facility.
In 2022, the Wildlife Department was notified by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) of a road-killed deer infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) found 2.5 miles south of the Oklahoma-Texas border near Felt, Okla., in southwestern Cimarron County. With the proximity of this infected deer to Oklahoma's border, ODWC activated its CWD Response Strategy. This includes the designation of Selective Surveillance Areas (SSA).
In 2023, Oklahoma's first case of CWD was confirmed in a free-ranging wild deer in Texas County. ODWC has conducted CWD monitoring on hunter-harvested deer and road-killed deer and elk since 1999. This case marks the first time the disease has been detected in laboratory testing of tissue samples from more than 10,000 wild deer and elk from throughout Oklahoma.
ODWC takes disease issues very seriously because of the potential effects on the state’s rich hunting traditions, human health concerns, the risk to natural resources, and the $1.2 billion impact hunting has on our state's economy annually. ODWC’s primary objective is to minimize the risk to Oklahoma's wild deer, elk, and other susceptible cervids within our borders.
ODWC is reviewing and updating its response strategy in response to new scientific research and the disease's closer proximity to our state. ODWC is also coordinating with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and other agencies to monitor the state’s captive cervid herds and provide information to the public as it becomes available.