Recently the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) revised its regulations concerning Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The revised regulations prohibit the importation of certain parts of whitetail deer taken in the state of Maryland effective immediately.

The first case of CWD in the state of Maryland was confirmed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources last year. In response, the DEC has amended its CWD regulations to prohibit the importation of the following parts of deer taken in Maryland: brain, eyes, spinal cord, tonsils, intestinal tract, spleen or retropharyngeal lymph nodes.

“Hunters who take a deer in Maryland must butcher the animal and remove the prohibited parts before entering New York State,” Commissioner Martens said. “Most successful hunters will opt to butcher a deer and put the meat in a cooler before traveling back to New York.”

Chronic Wasting Disease was first confirmed in New York in 2005. Since then the DEC has conducted an extensive surveillance program and has not come across any additional cases of CWD.

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, a prion, may be passed from animal to animal through feces, urine or saliva. In many states baiting deer in particular is illegal for fear that animals congregating around a concentrated food source will inevitably come in contact with saliva from an infected deer and transfer CWD to a new host. The minimal incubation period between infection and development of 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 is believed to be one route of transmission. This amendment to the CWD regulations will prohibit the importation of those parts of a deer where the disease is most likely to be found. 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.