At its August meeting, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC) voted unanimously to approve a proposal that will impact Tennesseans who plan to hunt deer out of state for the 2016-17 seasons.
The approved proposal, effective immediately, extends the restrictions on importation of deer, moose, and elk carcasses to the entirety of any state not bordering Tennessee that has found a positive case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). It also includes states bordering Tennessee if that state has a CWD-positive county within 150 miles of Tennessee’s border. Beginning May 1, 2017, the restrictions will apply statewide to all CWD-positive states including those that border Tennessee.
The restrictions prohibit deer carcasses being brought into Tennessee from the CWD-positive areas where the restrictions are applied unless it is deboned meat, antlers, antlers attached to a clean skull, a clean skull (no meat or tissue), cleaned teeth, finished taxidermy products, or hides and tanned products.
Previously, 11 of the 24 CWD-positive states had carcass importation restrictions applied to only the CWD-positive counties, while the other 13 already had statewide restrictions. As of now, 23 of the 24 CWD-positive states have the restrictions applied statewide. Three of Tennessee’s bordering states, Arkansas, Virginia, and Missouri, have found CWD in their state, but only Arkansas and Missouri have CWD-positive counties within 150 miles of Tennessee’s border. Consequently, Virginia is the only CWD-positive state that has county-specific carcass importation restrictions for the current hunting season.
The carcass importation restrictions also apply to the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in their entirety just as they did prior to the August Commission meeting.
The intent of the action taken by TFWC is to minimize the risk of CWD being introduced to Tennessee’s deer herd while also affording taxidermists and processors in Tennessee some time to make necessary preparations to minimize impacts to their business.
Chronic Wasting Disease is a contagious, incurable, and always fatal neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and eventually death. The misfolded proteins, or prions, that are responsible for the disease accumulate in brain tissue, eyes, tonsil, spleen, lymph nodes, intestinal tracts, and spinal cord of infected animals. Live deer can also shed the prion through saliva, urine, and feces. Once introduced into the environment, the infectious prions can persist for up to 18 years so prevention truly is the only medicine.
To date, 80 free-ranging elk and 9,394 free-ranging deer have been tested for the disease in the state with all the results coming back negative.
For official rule language and a description of which states will be impacted, see http://tn.gov/twra/article/cwd-carcass-importation-ban