Commission Approves Emergency Ban on Cervid Carcass Importation

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In an effort to minimize the risk of chronic wasting disease being brought into Arkansas, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today passed an emergency ban on the importation of cervid carcasses. The ban goes into effect immediately.

In 2002, the AGFC passed a similar law making it illegal to import, ship, transport or carry into the state, by any means, any live member of the cervid family, including but not limited to white-tailed deer and elk.

The new ban makes it unlawful to import or possess in Arkansas a cervid carcass or carcass part from any area, as proclaimed by the AGFC, that has a known case of CWD or considered taken from a captive facility or within an enclosure.

One way that the disease can be transmitted is by infected carcasses. At this time, 23 states have adopted regulations affecting the transportation of hunter-harvested cervids.

Chronic wasting disease is a nervous system disease that has been observed in deer and elk in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the two Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. The disease causes damage to portions of the brain of the animal and there is no cure for the always-fatal disease.

There are, however, a few exceptions to the ban:

Meat that has the bones removed.
Meat that has no portions of the spinal column or head attached.
Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls.
Cleaned teeth.
Finished taxidermy products.
Hides and tanned products.
Deer or elk harvested in commercial wildlife hunting resorts.

In other business, the Commission:

*Approved the spring turkey season for 2006. The season will have the same season structure as 2005. The statewide youth hunt will be April 1-2 (except Mar. 25-26 in zone 17). April 8-May 5 in zones 1, 2, 3, 4B, 5, 5B, 6, 7, 7A, 8, 9 and 10; April 1-28 in Zone 17; April 8-21 in Zones 1A, 4, 4A, 5A and 9A.

*Heard a proposal to increase the non-resident annual fishing license fee to $40 from the present price of $32. The fee was last increased by $2 on Jan. 1, 2000. If the new fee is approved at the November meeting, the price increase would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2006.

*Tabled proposals to create a permit for commercial activities, including various forms of guiding, on AGFC wildlife management areas. The permit proposal was considered in anticipation of guides who may take groups of bird watchers out on the state's WMAs in search of the Ivory-billed woodpecker. Waterfowl hunting guides are banned on all AGFC wildlife management areas.

*Approved a modification of the trophy bass slot and creel limits on Lower White Oak Lake. The new slot limit would be 16-inches to 18-inches along with an eight fish creel limit. The creel limit would not allow for more than three fish over 18 inches. This regulation would take effect on Jan. 1, 2006.