Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been discovered in whitetail deer in western Tennessee. This fatal neurological disease does not affect humans or livestock but it can infect deer and other cervids such as elk, moose, and caribou. Obviously, North Carolina does not have a population of moose or caribou but it does have a lot of whitetail deer and a growing population of reintroduced elk.
RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 17, 2018) — With the preliminary detection of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer in western Tennessee, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reminds deer hunters of a new rule that prohibits the importation of whole deer carcasses and restricts the importation of specific carcass parts from anywhere outside of North Carolina.
The new rule, which was implemented for the 2018-19 deer hunting season, is an effort on the Commission’s part to prevent the spread of CWD into the state. CWD is a transmissible, always fatal, neurological disease that affects deer and other cervids such as elk, moose and reindeer/caribou.
The rule states that anyone transporting cervid carcass parts into North Carolina must follow processing and packaging regulations, which only allow the importation of:
Meat that has been boned out such that no pieces or fragments of bone remain;
Caped hides with no part of the skull or spinal column attached;
Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls free from meat, or brain tissue;
Cleaned lower jawbone(s) with teeth or cleaned teeth; or
Finished taxidermy products and tanned hides.
Additionally, all carcass part(s) or container of cervid meat or carcass parts must be labeled or identified with the:
Name and address of individual importing carcass parts;
State, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin;
Date the cervid was killed; and
Hunter’s license number, permit number, or equivalent identification from the state, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin.
These new restrictions aim to prevent the infectious agent of CWD from contaminating new environments by way of disposal of carcass tissues, particularly those of the brain and spine, as CWD contaminants can persist in the soil for years.
Out of concern for the serious effects CWD could have on North Carolina’s deer herd, the Commission developed a Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan in 2002, with subsequent revisions over the years to respond to the disease’s ever-growing spread. The plan identifies and guides the agency’s initial short-term (approximately one year) efforts if CWD is detected in the state’s deer herd, or if CWD is detected in deer within 30 miles of its borders. Agency biologists also conduct statewide sampling of deer every year and attempt to sample all deer that show signs of the disease or die of unknown causes.
With Tennessee’s preliminary detection of CWD within its borders, two states bordering North Carolina will have CWD in their deer herds. In Virginia, Shenandoah and Frederick counties, which border West Virginia, have confirmed cases of CWD.
About Chronic Wasting Disease
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) disease in deer, elk, moose and reindeer/caribou and is always fatal. The source of the disease is an abnormal prion (a form of protein) that collects in the animal’s brain cells. These brain cells eventually burst, leaving behind microscopic empty spaces in the brain matter that give it a “spongy” look. As this occurs, it often causes behavior changes such as decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, a blank facial expression, and walking in set patterns.
CWD has no known impacts to the health of humans or livestock. However, the Commission recommends people do NOT eat:
Meat from a deer that looks sick
Any of the following organs: brain, eyes, spinal cord, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes*
Any meat from an animal that tests positive for the disease
*Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most (if not all) of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.