Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

USDA lifts Canadian wild game meat ban

Associate Editor

Washington, D.C. U.S. hunters who travel to Canada and wish to
bring wild game meat home with them will be allowed to do that this
fall, but they must understand some new procedures first.

And those who wish to return trophy racks must adhere to some
strict rules for animals such as deer, moose, elk, caribou,
mountain goal, mountain sheep, bison, pronghorn, and musk ox.

“The biggest issue is, you still can’t bring back the entire
head,” said Jay McAninch, CEO and president of Archery Trade
Association, ArrowSport, and the Bowhunting Preservation

Furthermore, there currently are only certain points of entry
from Canada to the U.S. where wild game meat will be allowed
import. For those who fly to their hunting locations, game meat
will be allowed into international flight locations, according to
Ed Curlett, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS).

Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced last week the easing
of restrictions on imports from Canada. A ban on all meat from the
country was put in effect May 20 after a single cow in the province
of Alberta was found to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or
mad cow disease. Her announcement last week came after “a close
review of the international standards” set by a standard-setting
organizations made up of 164 member nations, and further testing of
bovines in Canada.

Hunters now will need two items to ensure their harvested wild
game meat intended for private use is allowed entry into the U.S.
from Canada:

One item is a “Veterinary Services Special Permit for the
Importation of Hunter-Harvested Wild Ruminant Meat.” The permit can
be downloaded from the web site:, or be obtained
by calling the APHIS National Center for Import and Export at (301)

Hunters also will need one of the following: a valid Canadian
export certificate for game meat; or a copy of a valid hunting
license; or a valid hunting tag.

It’s important hunters obtain the permit prior to their hunting
trip, and have the form completed and ready when the point of entry
is reached. These documents must be presented at the U.S. port of
entry and will be reviewed and approved by an inspector with the
Department of Homeland Security, Customs, and Border Protection.
Without proper documentation, the product will be refused entry
into the U.S.

For those who drive to their hunting location, McAninch says
hunters must know where meat will be allowed to cross the

“(Hunters) can’t come across at just any location,” he said.
“We’re working to get more points of entry set up where hunters may
come through, so stay tuned.”

Currently, the following points of entry will be available for
Midwest hunters:

International Falls, Minn., (218) 285-6101;

Port Huron, Mich., (810) 985-6126;

Detroit, (313) 964-3458;

Sault St. Marie, Mich., (906) 253-1987;

Pembina, N.D., (701) 825-0101;

Sweetgrass, Mont., (406) 335-2282;

Roosville, Mont., (406) 889-5700.

Curlett said the number of points of entry for wild game import
was limited “to ensure that (wild game) does get through; to make
sure the right people are there to deal with the high volume of
meat products that will be coming through.”

According to APHIS, if meat or trophies are shipped by mail
instead of hand-carried, the permit and the export certificate, and
copy of hunting license or hunting tag, must be included with other
shipping documents, such as a U.S. Customs declaration and invoice.
Shippers should be instructed to supply this information; documents
should not be packed inside the containers.

McAninch said hunters should obtain the permit prior to their
trips. In most cases, hunters’ outfitters should be able to answer
questions about importing trophy mounts and meat.

McAninch adds another suggestion to the list: “When crossing the
border on your way up to Canada, stop on the the U.S. side and ask
about meat inspection the process. Get first-hand information.

“And go prepared to bone out the meat, wrap it in clear plastic
in your cooler, and have all the (forms) you need together, with
the meat.”

Patience will be a virtue, especially this fall, McAninch

“Be polite and courteous (at point of entries),” he said. “While
we’re just hunters at the back of the line, these are inspectors
dealing with (safeguarding) the several billion-dollar beef
industry in the U.S.”

Trophy heads and hides

While finished and unfinished trophies will be allowed into the
U.S. from Canada, intact heads containing the brain, eyes, tongue,
or spinal tissue, will not. It’s important to clean the hide as
well as possible.

Antlers should be attached just to the skull cap, Curlett says.
That rule could affect some types of mounts that require the full
skull for the mount.

“As personal trophies, hunters are allowed to import a maximum
of two skulls, without documentation, as long as the skulls are
clean, dry, and free of blood,” according to a USDA press release.
“Skulls that are found not to meet these requirements will be
refused entry.”

The same blood and tissue-free requirements are in effect for
those who bring racks attached to skull caps from Canada to the
United States.

It’s also important to note organs such as livers, tongues,
kidneys, etc., will not be allowed into the United States.

Hides are “enterable” as long as they’re removed from the
carcass of the animal. Capes are enterable if the hide has been
removed from the skull, and the head is no longer intact.

Reaction from Canada

Doug Reynolds, executive director for the Northern Ontario
Tourism Outfitters Association (NOTO), said the lifting of the ban
on meat came just in time.

“This certainly is good news for us,” he said. “A number of
outfitters had already received cancellations; we were close to the
make or break decision point.”

However, as August approached, NOTO was hearing “positive
rumblings” south of the border, he said.

“Things were moving,” he said. “We said outfitters could tell
the hunters there was light at the end of the tunnel.”

But some losses had already been incurred. One outfitter told
Reynolds that a party of 10 had cancelled and instead were heading
to Africa to hunt. How successful outfitters are in recovering some
lost hunters remains to be seen, he said.

Reynolds said politicians and organizations in the U.S. were
keys to lifting the ban on wild game meat from his country. He said
Safari Club International, as well as U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman from
Minnesota and former Minnesota state Sen. Bob Lessard of
International Falls helped lift the ban.

“It’s fair to say the success we enjoyed was because of lobbying
within the U.S.,” Reynolds said.

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