MORRISTOWN, Tenn. – Four Tennessee deer hunters have been cited for illegally importing harvested whitetail deer from a state that has a confirmed presence of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
TWRA has not released the hunters’ identities. TWRA spokesperson Matthew Cameron said the violation was discovered when biologists were collecting biological data at a meat processor on opening day of muzzleloader and rifle season. The biologists immediately contacted Carter County Wildlife Officers Dennis Ward and John Ripley who investigated and charged the four hunters with illegally importing deer carcasses from Virginia, a state that confirmed the presence of CWD in 2009.
The deer were harvested legally in Virginia. However since Virginia is one of about 25 states and provinces where biologists have confirmed the presence of CWD, hunters are required to take certain steps. Hunters can only bring deer or elk carcasses back to Tennessee if:
· Meat has been completely deboned
· Antlers, antlers attached to clean skull plates, or cleaned skulls (no meat or tissues)
· Cleaned teeth
· Finished taxidermy, hides and tanned products
A list of states and Canadian provinces that are included in the restriction are shown above and can be found here.
Cameron says, “If someone has information on a deer from a CWD state, we would appreciate notification through the TWRA violation number, 1-800-831-1174.”
CWD is not known to infect humans or livestock. However, The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that parts of an infected deer should not be consumed. Hunters can also be on the lookout for animals exhibiting symptoms of the disease. If an animal is encountered, do not touch, disturb, kill or remove the animal. Take pictures, a GPS coordinate, and contact the local regional office in the state that you are hunting to report a sick cervid.
To date, 80 free ranging elk and 9,394 deer have been tested for CWD in Tennessee with all the results being negative. TWRA Biologist Ben Layton says that they hope to test up to 1,500 Tennessee whitetails during the coming hunting season to insure the disease has not made its way to our state. There is no known testing method for live animals.