AUSTIN, Texas – Confident that sufficient safeguards are in place to minimize the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) entering the state, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted here Thursday, Nov. 7, to rescind its eight-month-long ban on the importation of white-tailed deer. The board also adopted new rules to ensure adequate monitoring and testing for CWD among deer prior to permitting any intrastate movement under the Trap, Transport and Transplant program.
“We believe vigilance and early detection are crucial to minimizing the biological and economic impacts of an outbreak, should one occur in Texas,” said Robert L. Cook, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director. “At present, the Texas Animal Health Commission’s entry requirements are sufficient to manage the importation issue. Therefore, the department proposes to lift the temporary suspension on importation of deer.”
TPWD regulates the importation of white-tailed and mule deer through its Scientific Breeder Permit program. The TPWD Commission action incorporates TAHC entry requirements into the Scientific Breeder Permit program, meaning deer imported from other states must originate from herds enrolled in an official CWD monitoring program for at least three years. In states where the disease has been detected, the required monitoring period is extended to five years.
In addition to lifting the import ban, the commission approved a process for testing for CWD in deer herds prior to granting a Trap, Transport and Transplant (Triple T) Permit for moving deer within the state. Applicants will be required to have test results from a number of deer that would be an equivalent to 10 percent of the number of deer to be trapped, and the number must be between 10-40 deer that show no positive tests for CWD before the state agency will consider issuing a Triple T permit. Permittees will also be required to permanently tattoo all moved deer with an identification number, and deer temporarily relocated for nursing or veterinary purposes may not leave the state for those purposes.
“The emergence of chronic wasting disease in both captive and free-ranging deer populations in other states is cause for concern due to the potential threat to wild deer and elk populations in Texas,” said Jerry Cooke, TPWD game branch chief. “The measures adopted by the commission are only a part of the picture. We’ve also begun testing deer harvested during public hunts on wildlife management areas and state parks and have developed a managed response in the event CWD is found in Texas