This fall, big game hunters will need to take additional steps prior to bringing deer, elk, moose or caribou carcasses into Minnesota from other states or provinces, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The new law takes effect August 1 and bans the importation of whole cervid carcasses into the state. Cervids are members of the deer family and include white-tailed and mule deer, elk, moose, and caribou. Pronghorn, bighorn sheep, and Rocky Mountain goat carcasses are not affected by the new regulation because they are not cervids.

The new carcass law specifies only the following portions of hunter-harvested cervidae carcasses may be brought into the state: cut and wrapped meat; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; antlers, hides, or teeth; finished taxidermy mounts; and antlers attached to skull caps that are cleaned of all brain tissue. Out of state hunters are encouraged to work with outfitters, processors, landowners, or taxidermists in the area they plan to hunt to make prior arrangements for partially or wholly processing their animals before bringing them back into the state.

The law was passed to help protect Minnesota deer from chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is a degenerative prion disease that affects deer and elk. While much is known about CWD, the specific mode of transmission is unknown and the carcass restriction is one of several steps being taken to minimize the risk of exposure of wild deer. “We know that the disease is transmitted from animal to animal and that prions can persist in the environment,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife big game program coordinator, “This law is a preventive measure to help protect the health of Minnesota’s deer.”

The DNR also recommends the following precautions related to hunter harvest and preparation of big game for human consumption:

· Do not shoot an animal that is acting abnormally or appears to be sick. Report it to the local DNR Conservation Officer or wildlife office immediately. They will attempt to find and dispatch the animal for testing.

· Wear durable rubber gloves when field dressing carcasses and wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing.

· Bone out the meat from your animal. Don’t saw through bone, and avoid cutting through the brain or backbone.

· Do not consume brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, or lymph nodes. The normal process of boning meat will remove most, if not all of these tissues. Additional information on CWD can be found at www.dnr.state.mn.us and www.cwd-info.org.