The South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Commission approved a new proposal that would restrict hunters from bringing their whole deer or elk carcasses home. The goal is to stop the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

This would mean hunters need to use a taxidermist in the area where they killed the animal. The same would go for a game processor. Officials say that hunters who transport deer or elk carcasses into CWD-free areas could spread the disease by improperly disposing of its parts.

The only way to effectively kill the prions that cause CWD is to incinerate the remains at 1,800℉ or digest them in sodium hydroxide. Because these aren’t realistic options for most people, the next best option is to bury it in a landfill.

Presence of CWD in free-ranging cervids Photo Credit: CDC

The South Dakota Chronic Wasting Disease Action Plan proposes the following changes:

  • Prohibit transporting whole cervid carcasses from any state, regardless of CWD status, into South Dakota. This also includes “high-risk” parts like the brain and spinal column.
  • Cervid remains can only be brought into the state or out of CWD positive areas if the meat is cut and wrapped; quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the
    spinal column or head attached; antlers, hides or teeth; finished taxidermy mounts; and
    antlers attached to skull caps that are cleaned of all brain tissue.
  • If a hunter wants to enter the state with a whole carcass or transfer the carcass out of a high-risk area, it must be delivered to a licensed taxidermist, game processor, or hunter’s domicile within 24 hours. They also have to dispose of all remaining parts with a waste management provider or permitted landfill.
  • Those transporting carcasses through the state would be exempt.

The proposal will go to a final vote by the commission on September 8th. If approved, the new rules would go into effect on July 1st, 2020. The violation would also be a class 2 misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine or 30 days in jail.

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