The thousands of Pennsylvania hunters who soon will be heading off to hunt big game in other states can do their share to slow the spread of chronic wasting disease in the Commonwealth.
Those who hunt out-of-state are reminded that Pennsylvania prohibits importing specific carcass parts from members of the deer family - including mule deer, elk and moose - from 21 states and two Canadian provinces.
The parts ban affects hunters who harvest deer, elk or moose in: Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland (only from CWD Management Area), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York (only from Madison and Oneida counties), North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia (only from CWD Containment Area), West Virginia (only from CWD Containment Area, which includes parts of three counties), Wisconsin and Wyoming; as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Pennsylvania hunters harvesting any deer, elk or moose in those areas, whether the animal was taken from the wild or from a captive, high-fence operation, must comply with rules aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania.
CWD was detected in Pennsylvania for the first time last year, and those hunting out-of-state must leave behind the carcass parts that have the highest risk for transmitting the disease. Those parts are: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.
"This is the first time that we've entered the fall hunting seasons knowing that we have chronic wasting disease inside Pennsylvania," Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe said. "But that doesn't mean we've given up the fight to slow the disease's spread or make its impacts on our deer herd as minimal as possible.
"High-risk parts are classified as such for a reason," he said. "And while we wish Pennsylvanians luck in all of their out-of-state hunts, we also ask them to make sure they're following the rules and bringing back home with them only the parts they're allowed."
Hunters who are successful in those areas from which the importation of high-risk parts into Pennsylvania is banned are allowed to import meat from any deer, elk, moose, mule deer or caribou, so long as the backbone is not present. Successful hunters also are allowed to bring back cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.
Wildlife officials have suggested hunters in areas where chronic wasting disease (CWD) is known to exist follow these usual recommendations to prevent the possible spread of disease:
- Do not shoot, handle or consume any animal that appears sick; contact the state wildlife agency if you see or harvest an animal that appears sick.
- Wear rubber or latex gloves when field-dressing carcasses.
- Bone out the meat from your animal.
- Minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues.
- Wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field-dressing is completed.
- Request that your animal is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to meat from your animal, or process your own meat if you have the tools and ability to do so.
- Have your animal processed in the endemic area of the state where it was harvested, so that high-risk body parts can be properly disposed of there. Only bring permitted materials back to Pennsylvania
- Don't consume the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils or lymph nodes of harvested animals. (Normal field-dressing, coupled with boning out a carcass, will remove most, if not all, of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will help remove remaining lymph nodes.)
- Consider not consuming the meat from any animal that tests positive for the disease.