The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has implemented a new rule for 2018-2019 prohibiting the importation of whole deer carcasses and restricting importation of specific carcass parts from anywhere outside of North Carolina in an effort to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a transmissible fatal neurological disease affecting cervids, which includes deer, elk, moose and reindeer/caribou.
The rule states that anyone transporting cervid carcass parts into North Carolina must follow processing and packaging regulations, which only allow the importation of:
- Meat that has been boned out such that no pieces or fragments of bone remain;
- Caped hides with no part of the skull or spinal column attached;
- Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls free from meat, or brain tissue;
- Cleaned lower jawbone(s) with teeth or cleaned teeth; or
- Finished taxidermy products and tanned hides.
Additionally, all carcass part(s) or container of cervid meat or carcass parts must be labeled or identified with the:
- Name and address of individual importing carcass parts;
- State, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin;
- Date the cervid was killed; and
- Hunter’s license number, permit number, or equivalent identification from the state, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin.
These new restrictions aim to prevent the infectious agent of CWD from contaminating new environments by way of disposal of carcass tissues, particularly those of the brain and spine, as CWD contaminants can persist in the soil for years.
North Carolina is not the first state to implement such measures. Most states in the U.S. have some form of importation and/or exportation regulations for cervid carcasses and carcass parts. The number of states that have documented CWD continues to increase. Cases of CWD have been confirmed in 25 states and three Canadian provinces.
The Commission has not detected CWD in North Carolina’s deer herd, but has a number of efforts underway to monitor for the disease. The Commission is committed to working with the public to protect the state’s deer herd from CWD, and encourage individuals to notify Commission staff immediately (866-318-2401) if deer are observed that appear sick or die of unknown causes. For more information, visit ncwildlife.org/deerdiseases.