The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is reminding hunters returning from out-of-state hunts with harvested deer or other cervids about the state’s cervid carcass importation ban.
This comes after an LDWF enforcement agent recently cited three Louisiana men for violating the importation ban in the Acadiana area with deer they had allegedly harvested in Texas and transported back to Louisiana.
According to the ban, which became effective in March of 2017, no person shall import, transport or possess any cervid carcass or part of a cervid carcass originating outside of Louisiana, except :
- Meat that is cut and wrapped
- Meat that has been boned out
- Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
- Clean skull plates with antlers
- Cleaned skulls without tissue attached
- Tanned hides
- Finished taxidermy mounts
- Cleaned cervid teeth
Any and all bones shall be disposed of in a manner where its final destination is at an approved landfill or equivalent.
The reason for the ban
This ban is strictly for the purpose of reducing the likelihood that chronic wasting disease (CWD) will enter Louisiana through carcass importation. Approved parts and meat from other states must contain a possession tag with the hunter’s name, out-of-state license number (if required), address, species, date and location (county and state) of harvest. Each state has different possession requirements for game once processed.
Illegal transportation of cervid carcasses brings a $100 to $350 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
The importation ban regulation was passed by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to prevent the introduction of CWD to Louisiana’s white-tailed deer population.
To see the full regulation, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/pagehunting/32522-deer-season-2016-17/cervid_carcass_importation_regulation.pdf.
LDWF has monitored and tested for CWD for more than 15 years, has checked more than 9,000 deer during that period and has not detected the disease. It has, however, been found in deer in Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.
The ban defines a cervid as animals of the family Cervidae, including but not limited to white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, caribou, fallow deer, axis deer, sika deer, red deer and reindeer.
CWD is a neurodegenerative disease found in most deer species, including moose, elk and mule deer as well as white-tailed deer. It is infectious and always fatal. It’s part of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and is similar to BSE (mad cow disease) of cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue which leads to death of the animal.
CWD is caused by prions, which are proteins normally found in the body that have mutated. These prions kill nerve cells and cause holes to develop in the brain tissue. They are spread through direct deer-to-deer contact or through contact with urine, feces, saliva and body parts of infected deer or infectious materials in the soil.
Deer infected with CWD can spread the disease even before symptoms develop. It can take one to two years for infected animals to become symptomatic. When symptoms appear they can include emaciation, lethargy, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions. Other signs include excessive salivation, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, excessive thirst and urination, teeth grinding and drooping ears.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there is no evidence that CWD can infect humans. However, the CDC recommends caution in handling venison in the infected region and that deer be tested for CWD before consuming
Hunters in Louisiana can have their harvested deer tested. Go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/pagehunting/41424-chronic-wasting-disease/2019_cwd_testing_flyer.pdf for more information.
For more information on CWD, including an instructional video on proper deer caping, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/hunting/CWD.