By Ronnie Weston| August 26, 2013 at 3:12 PM CDT - Updated July 21 at 6:31 AM
LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Wildlife biologists with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission have implemented new rules in an effort to increase Arkansas's defenses against chronic wasting disease. This disease is more commonly known as CWD.
The ailment, which has no known cure, has taken a heavy toll on deer and the tradition of deer hunting in other states – but not Arkansas. To date, no cases of CWD have been found in the state, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, along with several thousand Arkansans, want to keep it that way. With the help of hunters, taxidermists and meat processors here in Arkansas, the AGFC hopes to do just that.
A critical line of defense is not bringing in the carcasses of cervids (members of the deer family) from other states. Cervids include all deer species, elk, moose and caribou. With the new carcass importation regulation in place, only certain portions of these specific species may be brought into or transported through Arkansas. This carcass ban further reduces the risk of infecting Arkansas's deer and elk herd.
"Know before you go," said Cory Gray, AGFC's deer program coordinator. "Arkansas hunters can still bring home their successes from other states but they are now required to take a few extra steps in doing so."
This means whole or quartered carcasses are not allowed. In the past, hunters have often partially processed game animals, packed them into coolers and headed home. Because CWD resides in numerous locations throughout a cervid's body, removing those portions prior to transport greatly reduces the chance of transferring the disease to a new location.
So what portions may out-of-state hunters bring back to or even through Arkansas?
They can bring back:
Antlers and/or antlers attached to clean skull plate or cleaned skulls (all tissue removed).
Meat with all bones removed.
Finished taxidermy products.
Hides or tanned products.
What is CWD?
CWD is a neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in cervids and is always fatal. CWD is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep. The disease belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or prion diseases. Prions are abnormally shaped proteins that are not destroyed by cooking. Prions generally accumulate in the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen of infected animals.
Scientists do not completely understand how CWD is spread, although research indicates the agent responsible for the disease may be spread directly through animal-to-animal contact or indirectly through the soil or other surface-to-animal contact.
Not only should out of state hunters know the cervid carcass importation rules in their home or destination state, they should also know the rules of the state(s) they will be passing through with their harvest. For more information on CWD and individual state regulations concerning cervid carcass importation rules visit www.cwd-info.org.