A suit filed in U.S. District Court last week is challenging the interpretation of Kentucky’s law aimed at preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The action, filed by a Tennessee elk and bison ranch and a national deer farmers’ group, claims Kentucky’s law that prohibits the transportation of live deer and elk into the state is unconstitutional on grounds that it interferes with interstate commerce.


Kentucky, like several other states, also strictly prohibits the transportation of intact deer and elk carcasses across the state line by hunters when the animal was taken in a state where CWD is known to already exist in the cervid population.

Attorneys for Two Feathers Elk and Bison Ranch in McMinville, Tenn., and the North American Deer Farmers Association claim that Kentucky is the only state that strictly interprets its law to cover the intra-state transportation of live deer and elk.

Kentucky has yet to confirm a single case of CWD in its wild whitetail or elk herds.

Named in the lawsuit filed in Lexington District Court are Jonathan Gassett, the commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, and Karen J. Alexy, division director of wildlife for the department.

In September, Kentucky Wildlife and Fisheries confiscated and destroyed a shipment of deer and elk being transported through the state en route to a private hunting operation in Tennessee, according the Associated Press. That case is pending.

In a correspondence with the attorney for Two Feathers Ranch, Morgain Sprague, general counsel KF&W;, warned that any animals confiscated in Kentucky would be destroyed. He said the law is Constitutional and is being interpreted correctly.

“Your clients are free to use the interstates surrounding the Commonwealth of Kentucky to import cervids into Tennessee,” Sprague wrote.