New Chronic Wasting Disease Regulations

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a temporary regulation to prevent the introduction of chronic wasting disease (CWD) into New York State, including continuing a ban on the import of certain species of deer and elk. This is the third temporary regulation issued by DEC to protect the health and welfare of the State's wild, white-tailed deer herd.

In addition to the importation ban, the new regulation clarifies the prohibition on the feeding of wild white-tailed deer in New York State. Practices that can help sustain deer during winter months without posing a disease risk associated with the feeding of wild deer will be exempt under the regulation. These include habitat management, the provision of wildlife food plots, and the cutting of browse to feed wild deer.

"Although there are no known cases of chronic wasting disease in New York, the disease remains a concern and we are continuing to take action to prevent its introduction into the State," DEC Commissioner Erin M. Crotty said. "We strongly urge hunters and anyone who handles deer to review and follow this new regulation to ensure that our State's deer herd remains healthy."

Chronic wasting disease has been diagnosed in captive elk and deer herds or wild and free ranging herds in Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana, and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan or Alberta.

The new regulation, which is part of DEC's comprehensive disease management effort, also includes:

  • a ban on the importation of the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils or spleen from wild deer or elk taken in states or Canadian provinces where chronic wasting disease has been found. This ban also applies to captive or captive-bred deer or elk from anywhere outside New York;
  • specific procedures for handling the carcasses and parts from wild deer or elk taken in states or Canadian provinces where chronic wasting disease has been found. This includes boning all meat, keeping meat from individual animals separate, and labeling all parts before they can be imported. The procedures also apply to carcasses and parts from captive or captive-bred deer or elk from anywhere outside New York. An exemption allows travelers passing through New York to transport deer and elk carcasses, provided no parts are disposed of or remain in New York State;
  • a ban on the liberation or release to the wild of any captive or captive-bred deer or elk. An individual also is required to have a permit or license from DEC to liberate or release to the wild any white-tailed deer; and
  • a prohibition on the feeding of captive or wild deer or elk with any material that contains protein derived from mammalian tissues.

The new regulation contains specific information on exactly what activities are not considered to be feeding deer, the type information that must appear on the labels required for importing parts of deer or elk, and which parts may be imported with proper labeling. Hunters can import packaged boned-out meat, hides, capes, cleaned skull plates, antlers, and finished taxidermy mounts. The full text of the new regulation can be found on DEC's website at: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/regs/part189.htm.

Chronic wasting disease continues to be a significant problem in deer and elk in western states and has been detected in wild, white-tailed deer as far east as Wisconsin. In those states that now have CWD, an enormous amount of time and effort is being expended to either eradicate the disease or confine the disease to a limited area. However, these approaches have not yet proven successful. As a result, DEC is focusing its disease management efforts on measures to prevent CWD from being introduced into the State.

In July, 2002, DEC began sampling wild white-tailed deer to determine if chronic wasting disease is present in New York's deer herd. The analysis of all the samples collected will be completed soon. To date, chronic wasting disease has not been found in New York. The results of DEC's sampling program for CWD can be found at: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/deer/cwd.html

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease found in deer and elk. CWD belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or prion diseases. The disease is progressive and always fatal. There is no treatment for the disease. At this time, no human link has been found to CWD. It is not known exactly how CWD is spread; the origin of the disease, or the extent or prevalence of CWD in wild deer and elk across the country.

DEC is collaborating with the State Departments of Agriculture and Markets and Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services and the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, and the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University to develop and implement a comprehensive Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan for New York. The goal of this plan is to prevent the disease from entering New York.