The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted changes to its Chronic Wasting Disease regulations prohibiting people from importing into New York state certain parts of white-tailed deer or elk taken in the state of Pennsylvania. This revision finalizes the emergency rule implemented last October.
The first case of CWD in the state of Pennsylvania was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture last fall. In response, DEC implemented an emergency rule to protect New York's valuable wild white-tail deer population by prohibiting the importation of the following parts of hunter-killed deer or elk taken in Pennsylvania - brain, eyes, spinal cord, tonsils, intestinal tract, spleen or retropharyngeal lymph nodes.
"As is the case with many other states where CWD has been identified, hunters who take a deer or elk in Pennsylvania must remove the prohibited parts before entering New York state," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "Most successful hunters will opt to butcher a deer or elk and put the meat in a cooler before traveling back to New York."
DEC has conducted an extensive surveillance program since CWD was first confirmed in New York in 2005 and has not discovered any additional cases of CWD since then. CWD is a contagious neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a characteristic spongy degeneration of the brains of infected animals resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and death.
It is not known exactly how CWD is transmitted. The infectious agent may be passed from animal to animal through feces, urine or saliva. The minimal incubation period between infection and development of the clinical disease appears to be about 16 months. The maximum incubation period is unknown, as is the point at which shedding of the CWD agent begins during the prolonged course of infection.
The movement of infectious material may be one route of transmission. This amendment to the CWD regulations will prohibit the importation of those parts of a deer or elk where the disease is most likely to be found. While the exact health risks of consuming meat from an animal infected with CWD are unknown, DEC advises hunters not to consume the meat of any animal that acts abnormal and to exercise precautions when butchering animals, such as using rubber or latex gloves.
Additional information about CWD and New York's CWD Regulation can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/regs/3926.html.