Commission Approves Permanent Ban on Cervid Carcass Importation

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The potential effects of chronic wasting disease to Arkansas' deer population compelled the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to make permanent a ban on the importation of cervid carcasses. The permanent ban was adopted at today's monthly commission meeting.

An emergency ban had been in place since October, but would have expired in February 2006 if the ban had not been permanent. 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. Twenty-three 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 animal's brain and there is no cure for the 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:

*Increased 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. The new price increase will not go into effect until Jan. 9, 2006.

*Approved a budget increase in the amount of $148,480 for the replacement of the Hubble Bridge on Dave Donaldson Black River WMA in Clay County. The wooden bridge was destroyed when a loaded log truck, that exceeded the bridge's posted load-carrying capacity, collapsed the bridge this summer. The AGFC is attempting to recover the cost of the old wooden bridge from the trucking company's insurance company. The new concrete bridge was completed shortly before duck season opened this year.

*Approved a minute order to name an access on Plum Bayou after Bill Clubbs of England. The lifelong hunter and fisherman has fished the bayou for many years. Several residents of England and Lonoke County petitioned the Commission to make the name change.

*Approved $27,500 in funding for a forest management research project on Dagmar and Rex Hancock Black Swamp wildlife management areas. The AGFC agreed to a one-year moratorium on forest management on the two WMAs after the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The AGFC will be a partner in the study along with the White River and Cache River national wildlife refuges, the Lower Mississippi Valley Joint Venture and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The groups will test theories of forest management alternatives that would create and retain needed Ivory-billed Woodpecker habitat.