Import of Deer & Elk Parts Limited by State Regulation

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

With big game seasons opening in many Western states, hunters traveling abroad are reminded not to import into South Carolina certain carcass parts from deer and elk harvested in states with chronic wasting disease.

To protect the state's extremely valuable white-tailed deer resource, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has maintained a regulation restricting the importation of certain carcass parts from deer and elk harvested in states with diagnosed cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to Charles Ruth, DNR Deer Project coordinator in Columbia. "Currently, deer hunting generates more than $200 million annually for South Carolina's economy," he said, "and deer are the most sought-after game species in the state, in addition to being the official state game animal."

This measure was taken so resident hunters who travel to other states to hunt will not bring potentially diseased carcass parts to South Carolina. "The regulation will not keep hunters from importing harvested game since most game taken outside of South Carolina is processed in the state where it was harvested," Ruth explained.

Chronic wasting disease is one of the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to mad cow disease that has been so devastating to Great Britain's livestock industry, according to Ruth. The disease attacks the central nervous system of the deer or elk and presents symptoms including extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, odd behavior and poor coordination. The disease is infectious, communicable and always fatal to deer and elk, but perhaps the biggest stumbling blocks for wildlife professionals is that chronic wasting disease has a prolonged incubation period-up to five years-and no current test exists to detect the disease in live animals. Diagnosis requires examination of the brain. Although wildlife health officials are conducting considerable research, the overall biological and epidemiological understanding of chronic wasting disease remains poor.

According to the state regulation, hunters traveling to states with confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease should only bring the following carcass parts into South Carolina:

quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; meat that has been boned out; hides with no heads attached; clean (no meat or tissue attached) skulls or skull plates with antlers attached; antlers (detached from the skull plate); clean upper canine teeth, also called "buglers," "whistlers" or "ivories"; and finished taxidermy heads.