Montanans who plan to travel out-of-state or to Canada to hunt big game, including deer, elk and moose, should know that it is now illegal to bring heads and spinal cords from harvested game animals back with them from a state known to have chronic wasting disease. CWD is a brain disease in deer and elk that is always fatal.
Bring home only:
- meat that is boned, cut and wrapped; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
- hides with no heads attached
- clean (no meat or tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached
- antlers with no meat or tissue attached
- upper canine teeth, also known as “buglers”, “whistlers” or “ivories”
- finished head, partial body or whole body mounts already prepared by a taxidermist.
States where CWD is confirmed in wild deer or elk include Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. CWD is also found in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada. Some of the states or provinces also have game-export regulations that Montana hunters must follow.
In addition, all Montana hunters and meat processors are advised to properly dispose of waste carcass parts, including heads and spinal columns, from any harvested deer, elk, or moose by sealing them in plastic bags and depositing them in a waste facility where it is known that it will be transported to a sanitary landfill. These measures are intended to prevent the introduction of CWD to Montana, or the spread of CWD if it is found in Montana.
CWD is a rare brain disease that causes infected deer and elk to lose weight and body functions, behave abnormally and eventually die. The ailment belongs to a family of diseases that include mad cow disease in cattle, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans.
Public health officials have found no link between CWD in deer and elk and disease in humans and say there is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans. Scientific studies however, are still in progress to determine if CWD posses any risk to human health.