FRANKFORT — Hunters who illegally transport deer or elk carcasses into Kentucky from states infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD) risk prosecution.
Hunters must not bring whole deer or elk carcasses from infected states to taxidermists or processing operations in Kentucky.
CWD is a contagious and fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and other cervids native to North America. Currently, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.
Chronic wasting disease has been detected in 24 states, including Ohio, Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The disease has also been found in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Kentucky, which does not have the disease in its animals, prohibits the importation of whole carcasses or high-risk cervid parts such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, lymphoid tissue from deer or elk killed in CWD–infected states and provinces.
Hunters may bring back deboned meat, hindquarters, antlers attached to a clean skull plate, a clean skull, clean teeth, hides and finished taxidermy products. To help prevent the entry of CWD into the state, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources discourages hunters from bringing back high-risk parts of deer or elk taken in any state, regardless of CWD status.
Several proactive steps have been taken by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and captive cervid owners to prevent the introduction of the disease into the state.
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife monitors wild deer and elk herds while the Kentucky Department of Agriculture monitors the captive herds. Since 2002, Kentucky has tested more than 26,000 deer and elk for the presence of the disease. All results have been negative.
Regulations enacted to reduce the likelihood of CWD in Kentucky have included a ban on importation of live cervids from CWD-positive states, mandatory CWD monitoring of captive herds and prohibiting the importation of high-risk carcass parts from CWD-positive states into Kentucky.
This disease can persist in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil or vegetation or through contact with infected cervid parts. The movement of live animals, either through the captive deer trade or natural migration, is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.