Elk & Deer Health

Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal, and degenerative neurological disease belonging to the family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).

CWD susceptible species include white-tailed deer, mule deer, black-tailed deer, North American elk or wapiti, red deer, sika deer, moose and any associated subspecies and hybrids. All mule deer, white-tailed deer, and other native species are under the jurisdiction of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

CWD in Texas

The first case of CWD in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas. Since that time, 49 additional cervid have tested positive for CWD, ranging from breeder deer to free-ranging deer and are either white-tailed deer or mule deer. On December 6, 2016, the first free-ranging exotic CWD susceptible species (Elk) tested positive for CWD in Dallam County.

Exotic CWD Susceptible Species

Exotic CWD susceptible species are non-native to Texas cervid species determined to be susceptible to CWD, which means a species that has had a diagnosis of CWD confirmed by an official test conducted at a laboratory approved by USDA/APHIS. This includes North American elk or wapiti, black tailed deer, red deer, reindeer, Sika deer, moose, and any associated subspecies and hybrids.

On May 30, 2017 new rules were put in place concerning surveillance and movement requirements for exotic CWD susceptible species.


CWD Herd Programs

The TAHC provides a voluntary herd status program for species that are susceptible to CWD. Those that participate in the program must have a herd inventory performed annually by a TAHC, USDA, or accredited veterinarian. For more information about the CWD herd program, call your TAHC region office or 800-550-8242 x777.

The USDA has a voluntary herd certification program also, learn more by reading the USDA CWD Herd Certification Program Factsheet

CWD Management and Regulations for Hunters

Regulations for the 2018-19 hunting season include statewide mandatory testing requirements of exotic CWD susceptible species such as elk, red deer, sika, moose, reindeer, and any associated subspecies and hybrids.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has mandatory CWD testing requirements for mule deer, white-tailed deer, red deer, and other CWD susceptible species within the Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, and South-Central Texas CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones. See the TPWD website for details, regulations, check station information, and carcass movement restrictions.

Certified CWD Postmortem Sample Collector Authorized Personnel Program

The TAHC Certified CWD Postmortem Sample Collector Authorized Personnel Program regulations and requirements apply to a person, other than an accredited veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine in Texas, who collects and submits samples for official post-mortem CWD testing in Texas.

If you have questions about this program, need to check your certification status, or if you are interested in signing up for an in person class, please contact us at authorized_personnel@tahc.texas.gov or call Laura Leal at (512) 719-0761.

Fever Ticks

Cattle Fever Ticks, known scientifically as Rhipicephalus (formerly Boophilus) annulatus and R. microplus, are a significant threat to the United States cattle industry. These ticks are capable of carrying the protozoa, or microscopic parasites, Babesia bovis or B. bigemina, commonly known as cattle fever.

The fever tick has been a threat to American agriculture for generations. The disease caused enormous economic losses to the U.S. cattle industry in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since that time, the TAHC and the USDA - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service - Veterinary Services (USDA-VS) works together to protect the state and nation from the pest and its repercussions.

Cattle fever ticks are known to attach to white-tailed deer, nilgai antelope, black buck, axis deer, and other exotics. Though cervids are not affected by Babesia bovis, they can carry the fever tick to unaffected areas of the state.

Landowners, lessees, or other individuals who harvest, move or capture white-tailed deer, nilgai antelope, or other exotic animals located on an infested, exposed, adjacent, or check quarantined premises must have the animals inspected and treated by a TAHC or USDA-VS representative before moving off the premises. For more information on such requirements, visit the link in the right column, Wildlife Inspection, Treatment and Movement Requirements.

For more information about Fever Ticks visit the Cattle and Bison page.


Bovine tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that can affect many mammals, including members of the cervidae family. The disease is caused by Mycobacterium bovis. It can be transmitted between livestock, humans, and other animals. The disease is spread through respiratory and oral secretions from infected animals.