Pennsylvanians who harvest deer, elk, mule deer or moose out-of-state likely can’t bring them home without first removing the carcass parts with the highest risk of transmitting Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Pennsylvania long has prohibited the importation of high-risk cervid parts from areas where CWD has been detected. This prohibition reduces the possibility of CWD, which always is fatal to the cervids it infects, spreading to new areas within Pennsylvania.
There now are 25 states and four Canadian provinces from which high-risk cervid parts cannot be imported into Pennsylvania.
The parts ban affects hunters who harvest deer, elk, moose, mule deer and other cervids in: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming; as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan.
High-risk parts include: the head (including brain, tonsils, eyes and any lymph nodes); spinal cord/backbone; spleen; skull plate with attached antlers, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; cape, if visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if root structure or other soft tissue is present; any object or article containing visible brain or spinal cord tissue; unfinished taxidermy mounts; and brain-tanned hides.
Hunters who are successful in those states and provinces from which the importation of high-risk parts into Pennsylvania is banned are allowed to import meat from any deer, elk, moose, mule deer or caribou, so long as the backbone is not present.
Successful hunters also are allowed to bring back cleaned skull plates with attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; tanned hide or raw hide with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue present; capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present; upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present; and finished taxidermy mounts.
Hunters who harvest cervids in a state or province where CWD is known to exist also should follow instructions from that state’s wildlife agency on how and where to submit the appropriate samples to have their animal tested. If, after returning to Pennsylvania, a hunter is notified that his or her harvest tested positive for CWD, the hunter is encouraged to immediately contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which they reside for disposal recommendations and assistance.
A list of region offices and contact information can be found at www.pgc.pa.gov by scrolling to the bottom of any page to select the “Connect with Us” tab.
Pennsylvania first detected CWD in 2012 at a captive deer facility in Adams County. The Game Commission has since tested more than 96,000 wild, free-ranging whitetails and more than 1,400 elk for CWD.
To date, CWD has been found in 489 wild deer. It has not been detected in Pennsylvania’s elk herd.
Presently, there are three active Disease Management Areas (DMAs) within Pennsylvania where special regulations apply to help prevent CWD from spreading to new areas. Deer harvested within DMAs also cannot be transported whole to points outside the DMA.