In New York, DEC announces comprehensive plan to minimize risk of CWD on state’s deer, moose herds

The DEC plan is designed to protect both wild white-tailed deer and moose, as well as captive cervids including deer and elk held at enclosed facilities.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced Wednesday, Aug. 2 the release of a draft of its New York State Interagency CWD Risk Minimization Plan for public comment.

The plan describes proposed regulatory changes and actions that DEC will take to minimize the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) entering or spreading in New York and was designed to protect both wild white-tailed deer and moose, as well as captive cervids including deer and elk held at enclosed facilities.

CWD, an always-fatal brain disease found in species of the deer family, was discovered in Oneida County wild and captive white-tailed deer in 2005. More than 47,000 deer have been tested statewide since 2002, and there has been no reoccurrence of the disease since 2005.

New York is the only state to have eliminated CWD once it was found in wild populations. In North America, CWD has been found in 24 states and two Canadian provinces including neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The proposed plan would streamline operations between DEC and the State Department of Agriculture and strengthen the state’s regulations to prevent introduction of CWD, according to a news release Wednesday from the DEC. Examples of the proposed changes:

  • Prohibit the importation of certain parts from any CWD-susceptible cervid taken outside of New York. Require that these animals be deboned or quartered and only the meat, raw hide or cape, and cleaned body parts, such as skull cap, antlers, jaws, and teeth, or finished taxidermy mounts be allowed for import into the state.
  • Prohibit the retail sale, possession, use, and distribution of deer or elk urine and any products from CWD-susceptible animals that may contain prions, including glands, or other excreted material while allowing New York captive cervid facilities to continue to export deer urine outside of New York State.
  • Maintain and reinforce the prohibition on the feeding of wild deer and moose in New York State.
  • Provide DEC Division of Law Enforcement the necessary authority to enforce Department of Agriculture and Market’s CWD regulations.
  • Explore possible penalties or charges to defray costs associated with the removal of escaped cervids from the environment or the response to disease outbreaks.
  • Require all taxidermists and deer processors (people who butcher deer for hire) to dispose of cervid waste and waste byproducts in compliance with 6 NYCRR Part 360, such as in a municipal landfill.
  • Promotion of improved fencing methods for captive cervids to further prevent contact with wild deer or moose.
  • Partner with the State Department of Agriculture and Markets to enhance captive cervid testing while continuing DEC’s rigorous surveillance testing in hunter-harvested deer.
  • Improve record keeping and data sharing between departments through joint inspections of captive cervid facilities, electronic reporting, and animal marking.
  • Improve handling requirements, record keeping, and disease testing of wild white-tailed deer temporarily held in captivity for wildlife rehabilitation.
  • Develop a communication plan and strategy to re-engage stakeholders, including captive cervid owners and the public, in CWD risk minimization measures and updates on CWD research.

The draft plan is available for public review on the DEC website. Written comments on the draft plan will be accepted through September 1. Comments may be submitted by e-mail (wildlife@dec.ny.gov, subject: “CWD Plan”) or by writing the NYSDEC, Bureau of Wildlife, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.

— New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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