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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

DEC Adopts Regulations to Protect
New York Deer and Moose from
Chronic Wasting Disease

Hunters Prohibited from Bringing 
Deer, Elk, Moose, or Caribou 
Carcasses into New York
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that DEC is adopting regulatory changes that will further protect New York's wild deer and moose from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

"Chronic Wasting Disease poses a significant threat to New York's deer and moose populations," Commissioner Seggos said. "We don't have CWD in New York, and we want to keep it that way. With these regulation changes, we are acting to reduce the likelihood that hunters or owners of captive CWD-susceptible animals may inadvertently bring the disease into the state."

DEC is working collaboratively with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) and the agricultural community to prevent CWD from gaining a foothold in New York.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "The Department of Agriculture and Markets continues to work closely with DEC to be vigilant against CWD. These new regulations are welcome additions to the surveillance and testing conducted by our veterinarians, animal health inspectors, and our New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and will help us reduce this major threat to our cervid populations."

The regulations' most significant change is that hunters are now prohibited from returning to New York State with whole carcasses of deer, elk, moose, or caribou harvested outside of New York. Only the deboned meat, cleaned skull cap, antlers with no flesh adhering, raw or processed cape or hide, cleaned teeth or lower jaw, and finished taxidermy products of CWD-susceptible animals may be brought into New York.

Hunting seasons are already underway throughout the state and the nation, and hunters should not risk losing their prized deer or elk because they failed to follow New York law. DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers will be monitoring roadways and entry points along state borders and whole carcasses that are imported into New York illegally will be confiscated and destroyed.

Transportation of carcasses through New York is still legal, provided that no parts are disposed of or remain in New York, but hunters should verify importation rules in their destination state or province.

Other adopted changes include:
• Increasing the ease with which DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers can enforce DAM regulations to ensure compliance by owners of captive cervids (animals in the deer family); and
• Clarifying disposal requirements for taxidermists that process CWD-susceptible animals.

These regulations take effect on November 13, 2019.
What is CWD?

CWD is an untreatable and fatal nervous system disease caused by abnormally shaped proteins called prions. It affects deer, elk, and moose. CWD prions are shed through saliva, urine, and feces of infected animals. A healthy deer, elk, or moose can pick up the disease by direct contact with the infected animal's body fluids or by eating contaminated sources of food or water. CWD is not currently known to exist in New York.

DEC biologists and DAM veterinarians annually conduct strategic surveillance, sampling wild deer and captive cervids for CWD. New York State's risk-based sampling approach gives the state confidence that CWD is not currently present in New York and that it will be detected quickly if introduced.

DEC and DAM are also prepared for response (PDF). If CWD is found in New York, DEC and DAM will take aggressive actions to assess the scope of the outbreak and contain and minimize the disease's presence. Depending on the scope and location of infected animals, this may involve substantial and sustained reduction of local wild deer populations and/or depopulation of affected captive cervid facilities.

Strong prevention measures are the best strategy to manage CWD, and prevention requires cooperation and vigilance from state agencies, the public, hunters, and owners of captive cervids.
Steps to keep New York CWD-free:

Hunters, taxidermists, and deer processors are reminded to:
Not ship, import, or bring whole deer, elk, moose, or caribou carcasses or intact trophy heads into New York;
Avoid natural deer-urine-based attractants. Instead, use synthetic products; and
Dispose of carcasses and carcass parts properly at approved landfills.

The public is encouraged to:
Report sick or abnormally behaving deer;
Not feed wild deer or moose;
Report violators; and
Take the threat of CWD seriously and spread the word.

To learn more about CWD and what DEC is doing to protect wild deer and moose in New York, see DEC's Chronic Wasting Disease booklet (PDF, 10.5 MB).

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