The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission (TWRC) recently passed rules that regulate how hunters may bring deer and elk back to Tennessee when hunting other states, says the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

This new regulation, effective September 1, 2005, will require all successful hunters transporting deer and elk carcasses from CWD infected states to properly prepare the harvested animals before bringing them to Tennessee.

Carcasses and other animal parts that may be brought into or possessed in Tennessee include: (a) meat that has bones removed, (b) meat that has no portion of the spinal column or head attached, (c) antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls (where no meat or tissues are attached to the skull), (d) cleaned teeth, (e) finished taxidermy and antler products, and (f) hides and tanned products.

States affected by this regulation include: Colorado, Illinois (that portion north of I-80), Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Carcasses from the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan also fall under the same restrictions.

“Amid the growing concern of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is taking proactive steps to reduce the likelihood of the disease ever becoming established within the Tennessee borders,” said Daryl Ratajczak, Tennessee’s statewide deer program coordinator. “The disease, a debilitating and fatal ailment affecting white-tailed deer and elk, has spent the better part of its known lifetime in the western states of Colorado and Wyoming. All that changed in February of 2002 when the disease jumped the Mississippi river and was discovered in a southern Wisconsin deer herd. It soon spread to northern Illinois and in March of 2005, New York fell victim to its spread when it was discovered in three wild deer just east of Lake Ontario.”

Although the disease at present poses no risk to human health, it is in the same family of diseases as Scrapies and Bovine Spongiform Encephalapathy, also known as Mad Cow disease. This makes the disease extremely devastating to agencies in charge of statewide deer herds. Agencies are often faced with the monumental and often impossible task of trying to eradicate and control the disease. Surveillance and eradication efforts usually end up severely draining already strained wildlife budgets. This is why Tennessee is going on the offensive.

Knowing that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of (treatment), Tennessee has enacted strict regulations to prevent or delay the arrival of CWD, since the disease is most easily spread through contact with infected animals, “We are taking this disease very seriously,” says Ratajczak. “The longer Tennessee remains CWD-free, the better off our herd is and the more time is spent on CWD research. This regulation will hopefully allow us that extra time because as New York sadly discovered and stated, CWD travels either a few miles per year or 70 miles per hour. We will enact this regulation to eliminate that 70 mile per hour threat.” For more information, check out the 2005 Tennessee Hunting and Trapping Guide (available soon).

Hunting and Trapping Guide (available soon).