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Science and the Environment

New Regulations Proposed To Help Slow Spread of CWD

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The Missouri Department of Conservation wants to implement new measures to slow the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD.  It’s proposing new regulations that would change requirements for transporting deer carcasses and add carcass-disposal requirements for meat processors and taxidermists.  If approved, the new regulations would go into effect on February 29, 2020.

CWD is a deadly disease in white-tailed deer and other members of the cervid family.  According to MDC officials, moving potentially infected deer carcasses out of the immediate areas where they were harvested and improperly disposing of them can spread the disease.

The proposed regulations would restrict transportation of whole cervid carcasses into the state; allow for the importation of cervid heads with capes attached into Missouri if they are taken to a licensed taxidermist and limit the transportation of whole cervid carcasses out of the county of harvest within MDC CWD management zones except for whole carcasses being transported to a permitted taxidermist or meat processor within 72 hours.

They would also, within CWD management zones, allow the transportation of “low-risk” carcass parts out of the county of harvest; require meat processors and taxidermists to discard cervid carcass remains in a properly permitted landfill or waste transfer station; and require that meat processors and taxidermists keep records of cervid carcass disposal. 

MDC has tested more than 130,000 deer for the disease since the first cases were detected in 2010 and 2011 in two northeast Missouri counties. Most of those deer tested were harvested by hunters. Since then, the number of CWD detections has increased to 116 and the disease has been found in 16 counties in the northeast, southwest, southeast, central, west-central, and eastern areas of the state.

According to MDC, most deer hunters would not be affected by the proposed regulations and most meat processors and taxidermists are already properly disposing of deer carcasses.

The proposed regulation changes were given initial approval by the Missouri Conservation Commission at its May 23 meeting.

As part of its rulemaking process, MDC is asking for public comment on the proposed regulations through early August.