The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, along with other state agencies, is working to keep Chronic Wasting Disease out of Maine.
To prevent the introduction of CWD into Maine, recently passed laws now make it illegal for hunters who hunt and kill a deer, caribou, elk or moose in another state or province to transport any carcass parts that pose a risk of containing CWD prions back into Maine. Hunters may return to Maine only with boned-out meat, hardened antlers (with or without skull caps), hides without the head portion, and finished taxidermy mounts. If still attached, skull caps must be cleaned free of brain and other tissues.
It is legal for individuals to transport cervid carcasses or parts through the State of Maine if they are destined for other states, provinces, and countries. Transportation is to occur without undue delay and must use the most reasonably direct route through Maine to the final destination. Cervid carcasses or parts must be transported in a manner that is both leak-proof and that prevents their exposure to the environment.
The laws are a result of the fact that no state or province can claim to be free of CWD.
If it emerges in Maine, CWD could seriously reduce infected deer populations by lowering adult survival and de-stabilizing populations. Monitoring and control of CWD is extremely costly and would divert already scarce funding and staff resources away from other much-needed programs.
If you plan to hunt deer, caribou, moose or elk in a state/province known or suspected to harbor CWD there are some commonsense precautions you should take to avoid handling, transporting, or consuming potentially CWD-infected specimens. You can go to our website at www.mefishwildlife.com to view these precautions.
CWD causes irreversible damage to brain tissues in affected animals and ultimately leads to death. CWD is one of a group of diseases known as Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs). Other TSEs include Scrapie in sheep, Mad Cow Disease in cattle, and Creuzfeldt Jacob Disease in humans. CWD had been found several western and midwestern states, as well as parts of Canada.
Chronic Wasting Disease is known to occur in mule deer, elk, and white-tailed deer, although other cervids such as red deer, fallow deer, sika deer as well as moose, and caribou may also be susceptible. CWD is thought to be caused by an infectious protein called a prion that upon entering the body; causes the host's normal proteins to take on a diseased form. These prions accumulate in the brain and spinal cords, as well as lymph nodes, spleen, eye tissues, bone marrow, saliva, feces and urine in diseased deer.
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