Deer and Elk Import Restrictions

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Hoosier hunters traveling out of state in search of big game should be aware of new deer and elk import restrictions.

To reduce risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD) being introduced into Indiana, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health has adopted new rules governing the import of deer and elk carcasses, meat and parts.

The rules apply to elk and the following types of deer: red, sika, Japanese, spotted (and their crosses), mule and white-tailed. Wild-harvested and farm-raised animals are all subject to these rules.

Only the following carcass parts may be brought into Indiana:
- De-boned meat
- Antlers, including those with skull caps attached, if all tissue is removed from the cap
- Hides
- Upper canine teeth
- Finished taxidermist mounts
- Carcasses and parts of carcasses with the head and/or spinal cord attached that are delivered within 72 hours of entry to a state or federally inspected meat processor
- Heads that are delivered to a DNR-licensed taxidermist within 72 hours after entry into Indiana

State veterinarians are concerned that improper disposal of deer and elk carcasses could expose local wildlife to CWD, a disease that has never been found in Indiana.

CWD is a serious neurologic disease affecting cervid species. Although it has been associated with captive deer and elk in the past, CWD has more recently been found in free-ranging white-tailed deer in the Midwest. This disease has been a serious concern for a number of western and plains states for the last several years and has now been found in free-ranging white-tailed deer in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Although the methods of transmission are not completely known, evidence suggests that infected animals may transmit the disease by animal-to-animal contact or by environmental contamination. CWD is always fatal to the infected animal and there is no diagnostic test available to detect CWD in live animals.

While CWD is related to other well-known diseases, such as scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, public health officials have not found any evidence that CWD in deer or elk can be transmitted to humans.

In fall 2002, Department of Natural Resources biologists and state animal health officials staffed 80 deer hunting check stations to test deer for disease. The 1,200 deer tissue samples tested did not show any signs of CWD. This deer season, biologists will focus sample collection in northwest Indiana (due to confirmed cases of CWD in northern Illinois) and around deer farms. Lower level sampling will continue throughout Indiana.

More information on Indiana's CWD monitoring program is available at: deerhealth.IN.gov