AUGUSTA, Maine -- With Chronic Wasting Disease discovered in bordering Quebec, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries implemented emergency rules today designed to protect Maine’s deer and moose herds, and keep Maine CWD-free.
“Chronic Wasting Disease is the most serious threat facing our deer and moose populations in modern times,” said Chandler Woodcock, commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “Unchecked, this disease could devastate Maine’s Deer and Moose populations, and ravage Maine’s hunting and wildlife watching economy.”
CWD is an always-fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, moose and other cervids such as elk and caribou. CWD is caused by a mutant protein called a prion, which causes lesions in the brain. Research shows prions can be shed in saliva, blood, urine, feces, antler velvet and body fat. Prions bind to soil where they can remain infectious for years. CWD is always fatal, there is no treatment, vaccine or resistance, and once present in the state, it is nearly impossible to eradicate.
In order to halt the spread of CWD and keep this devastating disease out of Maine, the Department has implemented the following rules regarding the importation of deer and other cervids into the state of Maine. It is now illegal to bring cervid carcasses or parts except in the following manner:
Boned-out meat; properly identified and labeled
Skull caps with or without antlers attached that have been cleaned free of brain and other tissues
Capes and hides with no skull attached
Finished taxidermy mounts
The rule also prohibits the temporary importation of cervid carcasses and parts that are in-transit through Maine to another jurisdiction. These rules apply to all states and provinces with the exception of New Hampshire.
In addition, the Department urges all hunters to help halt the spread of CWD by following these guidelines:
Do not use urine-based deer lures or scents. CWD can be introduced into the soil with these scents and lures and lay dormant for years before infecting a deer herd. Many, if not all these products are derived from CAPTIVE deer, where the risk of CWD is greatest. While currently legal, avoid using these products in order to protect Maine's moose and deer herd.
Please follow the laws and rules regarding the importation of harvested deer, moose, or elk from any state or provinces (other than New Hampshire). CWD is carried in the brain and spinal cord of infected deer. It is vitally important that these parts are not transported across state and provincial boundaries.
Report deer that appear sick, weak or starving to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife so that the animal can be tested for CWD. Early detection is the key in stopping the spread of CWD.
Avoid feeding deer and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Feeding artificially concentrates deer, creating conditions that increase the risk of CWD transmission. Feeding also attracts deer from long distances, increasing the likelihood of the disease becoming established in Maine.
Following these guidelines will help prevent the spread of CWD as deer shed prions in urine, feces, and saliva. Infected animals can start shedding prions nearly a year before showing clinical signs of the disease.
“We hope that all hunters take an active role in keeping CWD out of Maine by doing their part to prevent the spread of CWD,” said Woodcock.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.