Yearly Archives: 2013

TAHC Adopts Chronic Wasting Disease Rule

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) held a regularly scheduled meeting on September 10, 2013. The Commission adopted five rules. One of the rules adopted was Chapter 40, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), Herd Certification.

Chapter 40, Chronic Wasting Disease, Herd Certification: The amendments remove the requirement for a specific fence height, change herd inventory requirements to allow verification through means other than a hands-on process, and change the requirement for submission of samples in positive or suspected positive herds to mortalities of any age. For regular enrolled herds the required sampling age remains at 12 months.

With the change in test age requirement for certain herds, the Texas CWD Herd Certification Program fully meets federal requirements for interstate movement of CWD susceptible species. The TAHC is working with key federal personnel to upgrade Texas from Provisional Approved Status to Approved Status, with no interruptions in interstate commerce expected.

A detailed explanation of the rule is available on the TAHC web site. The aforementioned TAHC rule will go into effect on Monday, October 7, 2013.

For more information regarding this rule or general information about CWD, contact your local region office or call 1-800-550-8242.

Founded in 1893, the Texas Animal Health Commission works to protect the health of all Texas livestock, including: cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, goats, equine animals, and exotic livestock.

Wildlife Commission Seeks to Test 3,000 Deer for Deadly Disease

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking whitetail hunters to allow staff to sample their deer harvests this fall for the agency’s statewide Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance effort.

CWD is a fatal disease, although deer may not show symptoms for five years or more. No treatment or cure for CWD exists. Direct, animal-to-animal contact is a means of transmission, but evidence also suggests that contaminated environments present risks. Humans are not known to contract CWD.

Although CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, deer populations have tested positive for the disease in Virginia, West Virginia and 20 other states, as well as two Canadian provinces. The Wildlife Commission conducts surveillance of the white-tailed deer population to monitor for the presence of the disease and prevent its spread if it were detected in the state’s deer population.

The Commission has been conducting CWD surveillance of white-tailed deer since 1999, including two statewide sampling efforts in 2003 and 2008, and smaller scale subsampling efforts in other years. The 2013 surveillance effort will be the most extensive yet as Commission staff seeks to collect samples from a minimum of 3,000 deer from across the state.

Public assistance in this effort will be essential to help the Commission meet its goal, according to Maria Palamar, the Commission’s wildlife veterinarian.

“If you, or someone you know, harvests deer this fall and are willing to donate samples, please contact the Wildlife Commission promptly,” Palamar said. “We’ll collect the brain stem and retropharyngeal lymph nodes to submit for laboratory testing. Collection of these tissues does not interfere with a hunter’s ability to retain the antlers or consume the meat.”

Hunters who want to assist the Commission in this effort should contact their local district wildlife biologists to discuss the collection process. Contact information for each of the Commission’s nine district biologists, as well as the three regional wildlife supervisors, can be found on this map. Hunters can also call the Commission’s Division of Wildlife Management at 919-707-0050.

Along with providing an actual tissue sample, you will be asked to provide your name and contact information and the exact location where the deer was killed, the date of the kill, and the sex. Suitable samples can be taken from any deer 1½ years or older. While younger deer (i.e., button bucks) can potentially have the disease, it will not have progressed far enough that it can be detected in the testing.

For more information on hunting in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s hunting page, or call the Division of Wildlife Management, 919-707-0050

CWD impacts Pennsylvanians who hunt out-of-state

Certain parts from harvested cervids cannot be brought back into Commonwealth.

The thousands of Pennsylvania hunters who soon will be heading off to hunt big game in other states can do their share to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Commonwealth.

Those who hunt out-of-state are reminded that Pennsylvania prohibits importing specific carcass parts from members of the deer family – including mule deer, elk and moose – from 21 states and two Canadian provinces.

The parts ban affects hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland (only from CWD Management Area), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York (only from Madison and Oneida counties), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia (only from CWD Containment Area), West Virginia (only from CWD Containment Area, which includes parts of three counties), Wisconsin and Wyoming; as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Pennsylvania hunters harvesting any deer, elk or moose in those areas, whether the animal was taken from the wild or from a captive, high-fence operation, must comply with rules aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania.

CWD was detected in Pennsylvania for the first time last year, and those hunting out-of-state must leave behind the carcass parts that have the highest risk for transmitting the disease. Those parts are: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.

“This is the first time that we’ve entered the fall hunting seasons knowing that we have chronic wasting disease inside Pennsylvania,” Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said. “But that doesn’t mean we’ve given up the fight to slow the disease’s spread or make its impacts on our deer herd as minimal as possible.

“High-risk parts are classified as such for a reason,” he said. “And while we wish Pennsylvanians luck in all of their out-of-state hunts, we also ask them to make sure they’re following the rules and bringing back home with them only the parts they’re allowed.”

Hunters who are successful in those areas from which the importation of high-risk parts into Pennsylvania is banned are allowed to import meat from any deer, elk, moose, mule deer or caribou, so long as the backbone is not present. Successful hunters also are allowed to bring back cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.

Roe urged hunters heading to a state with a history of CWD to become familiar with that state’s wildlife regulations and guidelines for the transportation of harvested game animals.

Pennsylvania detected its first case of chronic wasting disease last year in a captive deer kept at an Adams County facility, and another deer that had lived in the same pen later tested positive for the disease. Since that time, the disease was detected in three free-ranging deer harvested by hunters in Bedford and Blair counties during the 2012 firearms deer season.

In response to those cases, the Game Commission has outlined two Disease Management Areas (DMAs) totaling about 1,500 square miles, and special rules regarding deer hunting, the feeding of wildlife and the transport of high-risk deer parts apply within those areas. Maps of the DMAs are available at the Game Commission’s website and are shown on pages 53 and 54 of the 2013-14 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which is presented to each Pennsylvania license buyer.

The exact rules deer hunters within those areas will need to follow are being finalized and will be announced soon by the Game Commission.

However, those who live in a DMA and are successful in out-of-state hunts should know that – like other Pennsylvanians hunting out-of-state – they are permitted to bring low-risk deer parts back home with them.

Roe said hunters who harvest a deer, elk or moose in a state or province where CWD is known to exist should follow instructions from that state’s wildlife agency on how and where to submit the appropriate samples to have their animal tested. If, after returning to Pennsylvania, a hunter is notified that his or her game tested positive for CWD, the hunter is encouraged to immediately contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which they reside for disposal recommendations and assistance.

A list of region offices and contact information appears on page 5 of the Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest. The contact information also is available on the agency’s website ( by putting your cursor on “About Us” in the menu bar under the banner, then selecting “Regional Information” in the drop-down menu and then clicking on the region of choice in the map.

First identified in 1967, CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that affects cervids, including all species of deer, elk and moose. It is a progressive and always fatal disease of the nervous system. Scientists believe CWD is caused by an unknown agent capable of transforming normal brain proteins into an abnormal form.

There currently is no practical way to test live animals for CWD, nor is there a vaccine. Clinical signs include poor posture, lowered head and ears, uncoordinated movement, rough-hair coat, weight loss, increased thirst, excessive drooling, and, ultimately, death. There is currently no scientific evidence that CWD has or can spread to humans, either through contact with infected animals or by eating meat of infected animals.

As a precaution, however, humans are advised not to eat the meat of any animal testing positive for the disease.

Much more information on CWD, as well as a video showing hunters how they can process venison for transport and consumption, is available at the Game Commission’s website.

CWD precautions

Wildlife officials have suggested hunters in areas where chronic wasting disease (CWD) is known to exist follow these usual recommendations to prevent the possible spread of disease:

  • Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the state wildlife agency if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.
  • Wear rubber or latex gloves when field-dressing carcasses.
  • Bone out the meat from your animal.
  • Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
  • Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field-dressing is completed.
  • Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal, or process your own meat if you have the tools and ability to do so.
  • Have your animal processed in the endemic area of the state where it was harvested, so that high-risk body parts can be properly disposed of there. Only bring permitted materials back to Pennsylvania
  • Don’t consume the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field-dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will help remove remaining lymph nodes.)
  • Consider not consuming the meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.
  • Cervid carcass importation restrictions

    In 2013, the AGFC adopted regulations to prevent CWD from spreading into the state through mishandled cervid carcasses. Cervids include any member of the Cervidae family, including white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, sika deer, fallow deer, mule deer and caribou.

    According to Code 05.26 of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Code Book, it is unlawful to import, transport or possess any portion of a cervid carcass originating from any area outside the boundaries of Arkansas, with the following exceptions:

    Meat that has been completely deboned. Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates or cleaned skulls where no tissue is attached to the skull. Cleaned teeth. Finished taxidermy and antler products. Hides and tanned products. Other portions of deer originating from the land between the Mississippi River levees in Tennessee and Mississippi.

    Deer or elk harvested in commercial wildlife hunting resorts in Arkansas may be transported or possessed only after a CWD sample is collected.

    Chronic wasting disease not found in Arizona deer and elk

    The Arizona Game and Fish Department has concluded another sampling season for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The disease was not detected in any of the 1,277 deer and elk tested.

    “We are very appreciative of the hunters, taxidermists, and meat processors who provided us with samples this season,” said Carrington Knox, wildlife disease biologist. “Collection of samples from hunter-harvested deer and elk is crucial to our efforts to monitor for CWD.”

    CWD is a neurodegenerative wildlife disease that is fatal to cervids, including deer, elk and moose. Due to the long incubation period, animals may not have any visible signs of the disease in the early stages of infection. In the later stages, changes in behavior and appearance occur. Symptoms may include progressive weight loss, tremors, lack of coordination, excessive salivation and urination, listlessness, abnormal head posture, and drooping ears.

    It is a naturally occurring prion disease belonging to a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other TSEs are bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) in domestic cattle, scrapie in sheep and goats, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in humans. No evidence has been found to indicate that CWD affects humans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

    CWD was first identified in captive deer in Colorado in 1967 and has since been detected in both captive and wild cervids in 22 states and two Canadian provinces. Currently, it is found in free-ranging cervids in 18 states and two Canadian provinces. Arizona Game and Fish began testing for CWD in 1998 and has to date tested over 17,000 samples. The continued vigilance of hunters is essential for the department’s effective surveillance of CWD in deer and elk.

    Testing will resume this fall and, as in past hunting seasons, Game and Fish will be asking for hunters’ assistance in submitting deer or elk heads for free CWD testing. Heads can be brought to any Game and Fish Department office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hunters who are successful in Game Management Units that border Utah or New Mexico are especially encouraged to submit heads. Deer from these areas of the state have the greatest potential for initial detection of CWD.

    For more information on CWD, visit Information is also available from the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance at, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at