Stakeholders Q&A

Stakeholders Q&A

The following information represents common questions asked by the State agriculture and wildlife agencies and the cervid industry stakeholders regarding the national CWD herd certification program minimum requirements for participation.

Q. What is the application procedure for a State to become an Approved State Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Herd Certification Program (HCP)?

A. To participate in the CWD herd certification program, a State must submit a completed application package to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Programs (APHIS) Veterinary Services (VS) area office in their local area. The application package must contain:

  • a completed VS Form 11-2, and
  • a written statement and other supporting documentation describing the State authorities, regulations, and directives that allow them to meet the minimum requirements of the national CWD HCP.

The VS Area Office will review the application package and forward it, along with summary recommendations, to the VS Regional Office for evaluation. Subsequently, the APHIS VS CWD program manager will review the package and provide a final decision on the State's status.

With Approved State status the State and APHIS will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines the roles and responsibilities of both parties. The MOU will include the actions that the State must take to comply with the rule.

Q. What happens if a State cannot meet all the requirements for becoming an Approved State in the CWD HCP?

A. We recognize that some States may be unable to meet all Federal minimum standards when they first apply and therefore will not quality for Approved Status. In those cases, Provisional Approval may be granted and a timeframe established for each State to meet all requirements for approved State status.

Q. I am a herd owner. Will the original herd enrollment dates used in my State CWD herd certification program be maintained in the national CWD HCP?

A. Herd owners currently in compliance with their existing State CWD HCP will keep the same enrollment date when their State has Approved State CWD HCP status.

However, status levels and dates will change if an owner adds animals from other herds of lower status and/or if a CWD positive animal is identified in the herd. A suspension of status would occur if an epidemiological investigation traces an exposed animal back to the herd.

Q. What type of animal identification must I utilize in order to participate in the national herd certification program?

A. The national CWD herd certification program requires two forms of animal identification (ID) on each animal, one of those forms of ID must be an official ID. The official ID requirement includes several types of APHIS-approved numbering systems and devices. APHIS- approved numbering systems include:

  • National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES),
  • Animal Identification Number (AIN),
  • premises-based number system, or
  • any numbering system approved by the APHIS Administrator.

This is consistent with the proposed traceability rule and is described in the CWD rule, the CWD program standards, and on the traceability web site.

The second form of ID must be a unique ID for that animal in the herd.

Q. How often do herd owners need to conduct a physical herd inventory?

A. State officials will conduct a physical inventory of enrolled herds every three years to reconcile animal identification and record-keeping. This three-year cycle can be coordinated with other animal health testing or animal handling activities that may require physical restraint of animals.

In addition, State officials will conduct an annual herd and record-keeping inspection to review yearly additions to or removals from the herd and look for potential compliance issues.

Q. At what age should I begin testing my animals for CWD?

A. All animals that are 12 months of age or older must be tested for CWD. Scientific studies show CWD can occur in cervids that are at least 12 months of age.

Q. What tissue samples are required for CWD testing?

A. The national CWD herd certification program requires two types of tissue samples for CWD testing, the obex and medial retropharyngeal lymph node (MRPLN). These samples will be used to perform a test called the immunohistochemistry test, the official test used for CWD surveillance in farmed cervids. APHIS is evaluating data to determine whether the Agency will add CWD enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) as an official test of the CWD program.

Q. What happens if I miss testing animals (missed samples) or submit poor quality samples?

A. APHIS requires CWD testing for all on-farm mortalities in cervids older than 12 months. Failure to test for CWD in those animals that die, escape, are slaughtered (on-farm), or lost resulting in missing samples, or submission of incomplete or poor quality samples, may be cause for delayed advancement, loss of or reduction in status, or cancellation from the program. Participating herd owners will have one year to make up any missing samples which requires submitting samples from two additional animals for testing. Owners must submit both obex and MRPLN samples regardless of a carcass' condition.

Q. Are there any exemptions for the required CWD testing of enrolled cervid herds?

A. Herd owners enrolled in the national CWD HCP are required to immediately report (within one business day of discovery of a dead animal) to a State official of the Approved CWD HCP or to an APHIS employee (where applicable) all deaths of farmed/captive deer, elk, and moose aged 12 months or older, and must make the carcasses of such animals available for tissue sampling and testing. Exemptions to the testing requirement may be made by the appropriate State agency having CWD program oversight for extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the herd owner.

CWD sample collections may be limited to two animals per occasion when the appropriate State Agriculture or State Wildlife official determines that the animals died from a mass casualty/mortality event (where numerous animals die over a short period of time from the same apparent cause) such as during a natural disaster or an infectious disease outbreak (such as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease). In these cases, the designated sample collector will sample the highest risk animals. Higher risk animals would include older animals, males preferentially over females, and/or those animals having any known pre-existing health conditions or are in poor body condition. CWD testing will be at the owner's expense.

Q. How do I achieve and maintain Certified Status for my herd?

A. To achieve Certified Status, all farmed cervid mortalities must be made available for testing. This includes:

  • all on-farm mortalities of cervids
  • animals sent to slaughter and
  • animals sent to hunting facilities

To maintain Certified Status, testing will continue of all on-farm mortalities, and any animals sent to slaughter and/or hunting operations if those animals are retained under the same ownership.

APHIS cannot require surveillance for an animal that is no longer owned by an enrolled herd certification program participant. Approved States may have additional or stricter requirements.

Q. What effect does this regulation have on the interstate movements of cervids?

A. We are delaying the enforcement of the interstate movement requirements for cervids in Part 81 of this regulation until December 10, 2012. To be eligible for interstate movement beginning December 10, 2102, farmed cervids must have achieved Certified Status in the national CWD HCP.

Wild cervids captured for translocation may be moved interstate, in accordance with Part 81.3. Animals must have 2 forms of ID, one of which is official ID. They must also have a certificate that states the animals are sourced from a wild population known to be of low risk for CWD, based on a CWD surveillance program that is approved by the receiving State and APHIS.

Exemptions to the interstate movement requirements include animals moved directly to a recognized slaughter facility, animals moved for research, and other interstate movements approved by USDA (provided that adequate surveillance and mitigation procedures are in place to prevent dissemination of CWD).

Q. Are zoos required to participate in the national CWD herd certification program?

A. This is a voluntary program, so zoos are not required to participate in the national CWD herd certification program. However, to be eligible to move interstate any types of cervids covered by this regulation, the animals must:

  • achieve Certified Status in the national CWD herd certification program o
  • be considered exempt from the interstate movement requirements section of this regulation.

Exemptions to the interstate movement requirements include animals moved directly to a recognized slaughter facility, animals moved for research, and other interstate movements approved by USDA (provided that adequate surveillance and mitigation procedures are in place to prevent dissemination of CWD).

Zoos should also check with their State of residence and any State for intended transport of animals in case they have any additional requirements.

Q. My State does not participate in the national herd certification program. Can I participate as an individual?

A. Herd owners residing in States that do not have a State herd certification program may enroll directly in the national program subject to the availability of appropriated federal funding and resources to administer the program for those enrolled herd owners. Currently, federal funds are not available and will likely remain unavailable.

Q. When does the CWD final rule take effect?

A. The CWD interim final rule became effective on August 13, 2012. Enforcement of the interstate movement requirements section is delayed until December 10, 2012.

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