September 9, 2019

Missouri: New regulations to limit the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

Contact: Kent Keene, Lower Midwestern States Coordinator

On August 23, the Missouri Conservation Commission provided the final approval for new regulations regarding the transportation of deer carcasses into and within the state. Following initial approval from the Commission in May and a subsequent public comment period, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) finalized these regulatory changes. They will take effect on February 29, 2020. 

Among the regulations are new restrictions on the transportation of whole deer carcasses across state lines. Many states have imposed similar importation restrictions in recent years due to the risk of introducing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into an otherwise uninfected population. Hunters will be permitted to bring unprocessed heads with capes for taxidermy purposes, but they must be taken to a licensed taxidermist.

Additionally, MDC will introduce new carcass transportation restrictions for deer harvested within Missouri’s CWD Management Zone. Specifically, the whole carcass of deer harvested within the Zone may not be transported outside the county of harvest, unless they are transported to a licensed taxidermist or meat processor within 48 hours. Hunters are permitted to remove “low risk” carcass parts outside of the county of harvest. “Low risk” parts include deboned or wrapped meat, deer quarters with no spinal material attached, antlers, and finished taxidermy products.

Finally, the new regulations will require taxidermists and meat processors to properly discard of carcass parts in permitted landfills, and creates additional record requirements to record deer carcass disposal activities.

CWD is currently found in 26 states and 3 Canadian provinces. In Missouri, CWD was first found in captive deer in 2010, and has since been discovered in free-ranging deer populations in 16 counties. Though wildlife biologists and disease researchers are still working to understand all of the pathways through which CWD is spread, animal-to-animal contact including contact with infected animal materials, is widely cited as one of the most prevalent ways through which the disease is spread. Regulations such as these are becoming increasingly common as states take steps to prevent the introduction and spread of CWD throughout wild and captive deer populations.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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