NEW YORK (WWTI) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is continuing to do what it can to prevent Chronic Wasting Disease from making its way into the state.

According to DEC, CWD is a highly contagious disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and caribou, but it poses a significant threat to New York’s wild white-tailed deer herd. The disease is fatal to deer and there are no vaccines or treatments available.

CWD is believed to be caused by a prion, which is an infectious protein, that can infect animals through animal-to-animal contact or contaminated environments. Although it has not been detected in New York, the disease has been present in 29 states.

To ensure that there are no signs of CWD in New York, DEC tested 2,713 harvested deer across the state. DEC worked with meat processors and taxidermists to obtain samples for testing, which is what they do each year.

To expand protections for New York deer and moose, DEC adopted regulations in 2019 to prohibit the importation of carcasses of deer, elk, moose, and caribou taken anywhere outside of New York. Additionally, Environmental Conservation Police Officers increased enforcement efforts, and efforts to seize and destroy hunter-killed deer that were brought in illegally.

According to the department, prevention is the most effective management policy, and hunters are important partners in disease prevention. DEC warned hunters to avoid using natural deer urine-based lures, which could contain CWD prions, and instead use synthetic products.

If CWD is detected in New York, DEC and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets will implement the Interagency CWD Response Plan. The plan will guide actions if the disease is detected in either captive cervids, any species of the deer family, or wild white-tailed deer or moose.