NYLON – New York State’s deer are free of a disease that decimates wild herds across the country.
According to a press release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), none of the more than 2,400 white-tailed deer they tested last season were positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Since 2002, DEC has tested more than 40,000 wild white-tailed deer for CWD.
“Preventing the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease in New York State is among DEC’s top wildlife priorities. We’re working hard to ensure the health of our deer herd and to protect the recreational and viewing opportunities deer provide,” said Commissioner Basil Seggos. “We recognize that hunters play an important role in keeping CWD out of New York, because the most effective way to protect New York’s deer herd is to keep out CWD.”
CWD is a highly contagious disease that affects deer, elk, moose, and reindeer. CWD is always fatal and there are no vaccines or treatments available. CWD is caused by a misfolded protein called a ‘prion’ that can infect animals through animal-to-animal contact or via contaminated environments.
In 2005, CWD was found in captive and wild white-tailed deer in Oneida County. After intensive disease response efforts, no subsequent cases have been detected. In the 2016-2017 surveillance period, 2,447 samples were tested from hunter-harvested deer and 102 clinical deer that appeared sick or abnormal. DEC partners with meat processors and taxidermists to obtain samples each year.
For wildlife diseases like CWD, prevention is the most effective management policy. The DEC released four recommendations for hunters and anyone who regularly encounters deer that will prevent introduction of infectious prions. Some of the recommendations include stopping some common practices for deer hunter:
1. Do not use deer urine-based lures or cover scents. Prions are shed in a deer’s bodily fluids before the deer appears sick. Prions bind to soil and plants and remain infectious to deer that ingest contaminated soil. There is no method of disinfection.
2. Dispose of carcass waste, even from New York deer, into a proper waste stream either by putting butcher scrap in with your household trash or otherwise assuring it ends up in a licensed landfill. Landowners may dispose of their own deer on their property, but it is illegal for businesses such as butchers and taxidermists to dispose of waste generated from their business in any way other than a landfill or rendering facility.
3. Debone or quarter your deer before you bring it back to New York. This practice removes ‘high risk’ parts such as the brain and spinal cord that could potentially spread CWD. If a whole intact carcass is brought in from a prohibited state, province, or any high-fence shooting facility, the person will be ticketed and the entire animal, including trophy heads, will be confiscated and destroyed. Meat, hide and cape, antlers, cleaned skull cap with antlers attached, finished taxidermy mounts, tanned hides, and clean upper canine teeth are permitted.
4. Do not feed wild deer or moose. Animals concentrated together can spread disease quickly.
In the event of a CWD outbreak in New York, state agencies are prepared. DEC has an Interagency CWD Response Plan with the Department of Agriculture and Markets if the disease is detected in either captive cervids or wild white-tailed deer or moose. There are no documented cases of CWD infecting humans, but DEC urges caution when handling or processing CWD-susceptible animals.
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