The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has implemented emergency regulations regarding the handling, transport and management of deer in the State. The emergency regulations are effective immediately and represent an aggressive response to the recent discovery of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild deer sampled in Oneida County.
DEC’s emergency regulations are designed to ensure the proper handling of deer and prevent further spread of CWD in the wild herd. The emergency regulations were filed with the Department of State today, and are effective immediately for 90 days. In addition, DEC will begin the process of developing permanent regulations, which will appear in the State Register and include a 45-day public comment period.
The positive sample for CWD was from a wild yearling white-tailed deer, and was tested as part of DEC’s intensive monitoring effort in Oneida County. The sample tissue was tested at the State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University and confirmed at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. This is the first known occurrence of CWD in a wild deer in New York State.
The regulations will establish a containment area in Oneida County, where CWD has been identified. The containment area will be comprised of Oneida County municipalities, including the cities of Rome, Sherrill, and Utica, as well as the towns of Augusta, Floyd, Marcy, Trenton, Whitestown, Verona, Westmoreland, Vernon, Kirkland, New Hartford, Vienna, Annsville, Lee, and Western. In addition, the Madison County towns of Stockbridge and Lenox and City of Oneida will also be included. Within the containment area, DEC’s emergency regulations will:
* Prohibit the movement of certain animal parts out of the containment area; * Establish mandatory DEC check stations for any deer taken by hunters in the containment area; * Prohibit possession of any deer killed by a motor vehicle in the containment area so DEC can acquire specimens for testing; individuals who see a sick or dead deer should call DEC at (315) 336 -4809; and, * Prohibit the collection, sale, possession or transport of deer or elk urine taken from the containment area.
In addition to the requirements listed for the containment area, DEC’s emergency regulations will include provisions to be followed by individuals and facilities across the State. The emergency regulations will also: * Establish specific record keeping and reporting requirements for taxidermists and require measures to prevent live cervids from coming in contact with any materials, including taxidermy materials, that may contain the infectious agent that causes CWD;
* Prohibit rehabilitation of wild white-tailed deer at facilities that house live cervids;
* Require retailers who sell deer feed to post a sign provided by DEC to advise buyers of the State prohibition on feeding wild deer; regulations will also prohibit the sale of deer feed that is packaged or labeled for wild white-tailed deer. DEC implemented intensive monitoring efforts after CWD was found in two captive white-tailed deer herds in Oneida County – the first incidents of CWD in New York State. On April 8, 2005, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) completed testing of the captive deer and found a total of five positive results for CWD in the two captive herds.
To date, DEC, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program, has sampled 281 deer from Oneida County, and 25 deer from the Town of Arietta, Hamilton County. Since 2002, DEC has conducted statewide sampling of wild deer for CWD. When combined with sampling efforts in Oneida and Hamilton Counties, DEC has collected more than 3,700 samples from wild white-tailed deer.
DEC will continue intensive sampling of wild deer in Oneida County through April 30, 2005. Additionally, DEC will sample all deer killed within the containment area by motor vehicles, pursuant to nuisance deer permits, and by hunters for CWD testing. Statewide sampling for CWD – which has resulted in more than 1,000 tests each year – will be increased to closely monitor the distribution and prevalence of CWD in wild deer.
DEC and DAM will continue public outreach to interested parties in Oneida County to help educate citizens on CWD and to discuss next steps to be taken. The agencies will hold a public meeting on Thursday, May 12, 2005, at 7 p.m. in the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High School Auditorium, located on State Highway 31 in the Town of Verona. In addition, DEC and DAM will conduct additional outreach and continue to aggressively pursue inspection and enforcement across the State.
DAM continues to investigate, sample and test white-tailed deer from two captive herds directly associated with the two herds that were confirmed positive for CWD in Oneida County. Results for these sampling efforts will be announced as soon as they are available. DAM also continues to review its regulations regarding the movement, surveillance and monitoring of live cervids in New York State.
CWD is a transmissible disease that affects the brain and central nervous system of certain deer and elk. There is no evidence that CWD is linked to disease in humans or domestic livestock other than deer and elk. More information on CWD can be found at DEC’s website at http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/wildlife/deer/currentcwd.html