Deer/Elk Import Moratorium Wins Support

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The Missouri Department of Conservation says it supports the Missouri Department of Agriculture emergency rule announced May 1. The Department of Agriculture's action creates a four-month moratorium on the shipment into Missouri of mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk that are 16 months and older.

Effective May 11, the moratorium builds upon existing animal health and shipment requirements to help prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.

"Chronic wasting disease is a wildlife issue that demands attention," said Jerry Conley, Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation. "Animal health officials, conservationists, hunters and the captive deer and elk industry must work together to minimize the risk of this disease entering Missouri."

First documented in 1967 in Colorado, chronic wasting disease is known only to affect mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk. This disease attacks an animal's brain and is assumed always to be fatal. There is no evidence that chronic wasting disease affects people or livestock.

Recently, chronic wasting disease has been documented in additional states, raising concerns among animal health officials and state wildlife agencies nationwide. Currently, it has been found in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. It is also documented in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The state departments of Agriculture and Conservation are working closely together on the chronic wasting disease issue. Both agencies have tightened regulations and have developed a chronic wasting disease surveillance program to test for the disease in captive animals.

"There is no live animal test for this disease and no vaccine. As a result, additional control and monitoring of interstate transportation of deer and elk is appropriate. We are committed to protecting our wild deer herd," said Jerry Conley. "Testing of Missouri's wild deer herd began during the 2001 firearms season, and we will continue testing next season."

To date, chronic wasting disease has not been found in Missouri.