From Fish & Game: Chronic wasting disease confirmed just over the border

October 04. 2018 11:18AM
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease that affects cervids, which leads to destruction of the brain. Cervids are animals in the deer family and include deer, elk, moose, and caribou. To date there have been no documented cases of CWD in humans, however research is still being conducted to assess the possible risks to humans and hunters are advised not to consume meat from animals they suspect are infected with CWD.

CWD was recently discovered in the Canadian province of Quebec for the first time in a red deer from a captive facility. Quebec is now legally classified as a CWD-positive jurisdiction and therefore whole carcasses of cervids harvested in Quebec can no longer be transported into New Hampshire.

“This case represents the closest geographic confirmed case of CWD to the New Hampshire border to date and poses a much greater threat to the state's deer and moose populations than previous cases of the disease elsewhere in North America,” said Dan Bergeron, Deer Project Manager for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

Therefore, it is essential that hunters who make trips to CWD-positive jurisdiction closely follow the mandatory regulations on bringing home any cervid carcasses including deer, moose, elk, or caribou. You may only legally bring deboned meat, antlers, upper canine teeth, hides or capes with no part of head attached, or finished taxidermy mounts into New Hampshire. Antlers attached to skull caps or canine teeth must have all the soft tissue removed. This regulation is intended to protect New Hampshire's deer and moose populations from CWD. There is not treatment for this disease, no vaccine, and no cure.

As of this writing, CWD has been detected in wild or captive cervids in 25 states* and 3 Canadian provinces (see chart). A nationwide effort is underway to prevent further spread of this disease. This effort includes collecting annual samples of deer tissue as part of the ongoing monitoring and surveillance efforts and restricting the transport and spread of potentially infected animals, carcasses, tissues, and bodily fluids of cervids. Several states and Canadian provinces have also banned the use and possession of natural urine-based lures due to the potential for disease transmission. There are a number of synthetic deer lures on the market today that do not pose a risk of spreading disease that can be used as an alternative.

During the fall deer hunting season, the NH Fish and Game Department, with significant support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services in Concord, collects heads and extracts samples from hunter-killed deer across the state for testing. As a result of these efforts, 6,260 deer have been tested in New Hampshire since testing began in 2002, and none have tested positive to date.

“It only takes one piece of contaminated material to be brought across our state border to change the future of New Hampshire's deer herd and the way we manage deer forever,” said Bergeron. “It is up to all of us to take every precaution we can to prevent CWD from coming across our borders.”

*New York is no longer considered a CWD-positive jurisdiction by New Hampshire. However, New York-killed deer still may not be transported through Massachusetts or Vermont.


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