For any Tennessean that hunts big game out of state, there are new restrictions on the importation of deer, elk and moose carcasses into Tennessee. The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission, in its August meeting, voted unanimously to approve a more cautious approach to the prevention of chronic wasting disease (CWD) coming into the state. The new regulations will go into effect immediately.
Tennessee currently restricts the importation of deer, elk and moose carcasses from restricted CWD-positive areas of North America unless it is deboned meat, antlers, a clean skull (no meat or tissue), antlers attached to a clean skull, cleaned teeth, finished taxidermy products, or hides and tanned products.
Previously, of the 24 CWD-affected states, 13 had statewide restrictions and 11 had restrictions only on the counties with CWD cases. The Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan were also restricted in their entirety.
The new rules extend the importation restrictions immediately to the entirety of all states that have had a positive case of CWD. The only exception, a temporary one that expires on May 1, 2017, is for contiguous states to Tennessee that have their affected counties more than 150 miles from the Tennessee border; those states will remain county-restricted. Only Virginia qualifies for the county-only restriction, and again, that exemption expires in about eight months.
Chronic wasting disease is a contagious, incurable, and always fatal neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and eventually death. The malformed proteins, or prions, that are responsible for the disease accumulate in brain tissue, eyes, tonsil, spleen, lymph nodes, intestinal tracts, and spinal cord of infected animals. Live deer can also shed the prion through saliva, urine, and feces. Once introduced into the environment, the infectious prions can persist for up to 18 years; so prevention truly is the only alternative.
To date, 80 free-ranging elk and 9,394 free-ranging deer have been tested for the disease in the state with all the results coming back negative. For the official language of the rules and a description of which states will be impacted go to http://tn.gov/twra/article/cwd-carcass-importation-ban.