The Department of Environmental Conservation’s latest crackdown on chronic wasting disease (CWD) will affect all New York hunters who leave the state in pursuit of venison. Under a proposed regulation being floated at an ongoing series of public meetings on the CWD threat, hunters who kill deer or elk in any other state or country would be barred from bringing whole carcasses or trophy heads back to New York.

Venison brought into our state would have to be completely boned-out, packaged and labeled as to species, place of origin, name of taker and destination. Capes, cleaned skulls and antlers could be transported, but all brains, eyes, spinal cords, tonsils, spleens and lymph nodes would be prohibited cargo.

Currently, these restrictions apply only to deer or elk taken in states which are known to be infected with CWD.

At an informational hearing held last Wednesday at the State Fairgrounds Art and Home Center, DEC Region 7 biologist Dave Riehlman said his agency also intends to make permanent the current prohibition against supplemental feeding of deer, Riehlman said.

That ban is designed to curb the spread of disease among deer which congregate at feeding sites maintained by rod and gun clubs, rural towns and individual do-gooders.

Chronic wasting disease is a contagious nervous-system ailment, invariably fatal, that affects elk and mule deer as well as whitetails. It was first observed in Colorado in 1981 and has since been confirmed in wild or captive herds in eight states and several Canadian provinces.

So far, the farthest it has come to us is Illinois, which it reached last year.