On May 20, 2003 the Canadian Food Inspection Service notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) of a confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a domestic cow from a farm in northern Alberta. USDA-APHIS immediately placed Canada under its BSE restriction guidelines. This temporary ban prohibits the importation of ruminants that have been in Canada and meat, meat products, and certain other products and byproducts of ruminants that have been in Canada. This action was deemed necessary to help prevent the introduction of BSE into the United States.

The interim rule, as it currently stands, means that hunters returning to the United States from Canadian hunting trips will not be able to bring certain wild game or wild game “products” into the U.S. Whole or partial animal carcasses, meat (including boned out meat) and bones are included in the ban. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the ban does not include hides (as long as they are free of meat or blood) and antlers or horns (as long as the skull plate has been removed from the skull and is free of meat or blood). Species included in the ban which are of interest to hunters include deer, elk, moose, caribou, pronghorn, wild sheep, musk ox and bison.

APHIS will be reviewing this interim rule within the next few weeks. It is possible that an exception may be created thereby allowing importation into the United States of those free-ranging ruminants that have legally been taken by licensed hunters. Depending upon the outcome of APHIS risk assessments and disease modeling exercises, such an exception may take the form of allowing entire carcasses, or allowing only clean skull plates and hides, antlers, horns and boned out meat.

Check the CWD Alliance website (http://www.cwd-info.org) for updates on this topic.

The USDA-APHIS news release may be accessed on the CWD Alliance website at: http://www.cwd-info.org/index.php/fuseaction/news.detail/ID/faa55845d74bd6a19983417e74da5e87. A USDA “backgrounder” on this issue may be accessed at http://www.usda.gov/news/releases/2003/05/bg0166.htm.