WASHINGTON, July 24, 2006–The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is finalizing a rule amending its regulations regarding the control and eradication of communicable diseases of livestock to establish a chronic wasting disease (CWD) herd certification program for cervids.

This action provides a necessary and important tool in APHIS’ efforts to eliminate CWD from farmed and captive deer, elk and moose populations.

The final rule standardizes certification requirements that currently vary from state to state. To become certified, cervid herd owners must follow program requirements for animal identification, disease testing, herd management and fencing. Herds that participate in the program for five years with no evidence of CWD may be granted certified status.

The final rule also provides regulations for the interstate movement of cervids. In order to reduce the spread of CWD, only animals from herds participating in the program will be allowed to move interstate. Owners of herds may enroll in a state program equivalent to the federal program, or may enroll directly in the federal program if no state program exists.

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids that has been found in wild and captive animals in North America and Korea. It was first detected in farmed cervids in the United States in 1997. CWD occurs in multiple species of the deer family, such as deer, elk, and moose, in both captive herds and free-ranging animals. CWD is typified by chronic weight loss that leads to the death of the animal. There has been no evidence to date that CWD can be transmitted to other species of animals, such as cattle, sheep and goats or to humans. Management efforts are essential for reducing the spread of the disease and protecting U.S. cervid herds.

Notice of this final rule was published in July 21 Federal Register and will become effective Oct. 19.