SANTA FE – Deer and elk hunters will be required to observe new rules regarding the removal of game animal parts from a 250-square-mile area of the Sacramento Mountains in southern New Mexico this fall as the Department of Game and Fish continues efforts to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The new restrictions apply to an area near the community of Timberon in Game Management Unit 34, where the state’s 12th case of chronic wasting disease was discovered in early June 2005. Timberon is about 25 miles southeast of Alamogordo. The restrictions will apply only to hunters who take animals in the CWD Control Area, a 250 square-mile section in the southern portion of Unit 34, which is composed of about 2,000 square miles east of Alamogordo and south of Ruidoso and the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

About 6,000 deer and elk hunters are expected to participate in various hunts in Unit 34 in the 2005-2006 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 Thursday, Sept. 1. The last hunt in the unit this season ends Jan. 15, 2006.

The restrictions affect which body parts of deer and elk harvested within the CWD Control Area may be removed from Unit 34. A map showing the boundaries of Control Area and hunter check station locations can be seen 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.

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 12 wild deer in New Mexico since 2002, when it was first discovered at the main headquarters housing area of White Sands Missile Range east of Las Cruces. To date, no CWD-infected elk have been found in New Mexico, although the disease has been found in wild and captive deer and elk in eight 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/.