SANTA FE – Deer and elk hunters will be required again this fall and winter to observe rules regarding the removal of game animal parts from a 400 square-mile area of the Sacramento Mountains in southern New Mexico as the Department of Game and Fish continues efforts to control the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The restrictions apply to a CWD Control Area near the community of Timberon, about 25 miles southeast of Alamogordo in the southern portion of Game Management Unit 34. The control area was expanded this year to 400 square miles from 250 square miles following recent discoveries of more mule deer infected with chronic wasting disease.

Seventeen wild mule deer and two wild elk have tested positive for the disease since it was first discovered in New Mexico in 2002 near the main post at White Sands Missile Range east of Las Cruces. The two infected elk and two deer were found in the southern Sacramento Mountains near Timberon. Fourteen infected deer were found near the main post or in the nearby Organ Mountains. One infected deer recently was found in the Stallion Range of the missile range, approximately 100 miles north of the main post and 75 miles from Timberon.

The 2006-2007 hunting season restrictions affect which body parts of deer and elk harvested within the CWD Control Area may be removed from Unit 34. The control area is in the southern third of Unit 34, a 2,000 square-mile area east of Alamogordo and south of Ruidoso and the Mescalero Apache Reservation. A map showing the boundaries of the Control Area, Unit 34, and locations of hunter check stations can be seen below and on the Department web site, www.wildlife.state.nm.us . Information also will be available from hunting and fishing license vendors in southeastern New Mexico, or by calling (505) 476-8000.

About 5,000 deer and elk hunters are expected to participate in various public- and private-land hunts in Unit 34 in the 2006-2007 seasons, most of them in October and November. The first of this year’s Unit 34 hunting seasons – archery hunts for deer and elk – began Sept. 1. The last hunt in the unit this season ends Jan. 15, 2006.

Restrictions include:

  • No portion of the spinal cord or backbone may be removed from Unit 34 if the animal was killed in the Control Area.
  • Only boned-out meat and quarters with bones attached may be transported out of Unit 34 if the animal was killed in the Control Area.
  • Also acceptable for removal from Unit 34 is cut and wrapped meat, hides with no heads attached, clean skull plates with antlers attached, antlers with no meat or tissue attached, upper canine teeth (“ivories”) and finished heads mounted by a taxidermist within the unit.
  • Proof of sex must be kept with all game species: antlers attached to skull plates; and for cow elk, scalps with ears.
  • Skull plates can be removed from the unit only after they are decontaminated by soaking them in a solution of 50 percent chlorine bleach and 50 percent water for 20 minutes.
  • Hunter check stations will be staffed by the Department of Game and Fish to collect tissue samples, assist hunters with decontamination and to ensure CWD restrictions and other game laws are observed.
  • A hunter who legally kills a deer or elk in the Control Area can take it home or to a taxidermist or meat packer without first de-boning the meat or quartering the animal as long as their home, taxidermist or meat packer is in Unit 34.
  • A hunter who legally kills a deer or elk outside the Control Area but within Unit 34 may transport the entire animal out of the unit as usual.

There currently is no evidence of CWD being transmitted to humans or livestock. The disease is fatal to deer and elk, causing the animals to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and lose control of bodily functions. The origin of CWD in New Mexico is unknown. The disease has been found in wild and captive deer and elk in 14 states and two Canadian provinces.

For more information about chronic wasting disease and how hunters can assist in research and prevention efforts, visit the Department web site at www.wildlife.state.nm.us . More information about chronic wasting disease also can be found on the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance web site at www.cwd-info.org/