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Proposals to Protect NYS Deer, Moose from Chronic Wasting Disease
New York Ag Connection - 08/09/2019

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos Thursday announced that DEC is proposing several regulatory changes to further protect New York's wild deer and moose from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

"CWD poses a real and substantial threat to deer, elk, and moose populations across North America, and we take that risk seriously in New York," said Commissioner Seggos. "Currently, there is no evidence of CWD in New York, and we want to keep it that way. With these proposed changes, DEC is reducing the potential that hunters or owners of captive deer may inadvertently bring this disease into New York."

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "All New Yorkers have a stake in keeping both our wild deer population and our deer and elk farms free of Chronic Wasting Disease. We will continue to coordinate and work with the Department of Environmental Conservation, hunters, and our state's deer and elk farmers to ensure these populations are healthy. Our deer farmers understand the importance of keeping New York CWD-free, and these updates will provide our veterinarians and veterinary technicians with additional assistance from DEC and allow for expanded testing abilities."

CWD is a fatal and untreatable nervous-system disease affects deer, elk, and moose and is believed to be caused by abnormally shaped proteins called prions. CWD prions are shed through saliva, urine, and feces of infected animals. A healthy deer, elk, or moose can pick up the disease by direct contact with the infected animal's body fluids or by eating contaminated sources of food or water.

DEC and the Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) recently finalized the New York State Interagency Chronic Wasting Disease Risk Minimization Plan, which includes recommendations to strengthen protection of New York's wild white-tailed deer and moose populations, as well as captive cervids (deer and elk) held at enclosed breeding and shooting facilities.

Proposed changes include:

- Expanding the prohibition on the importation of carcasses and carcass parts of CWD-susceptible animals to include all jurisdictions outside of New York;

- Clarifying that the only parts of CWD-susceptible animals that may be imported into New York are deboned meat, cleaned skull cap, antlers with no flesh adhering, raw or processed cape or hide, cleaned teeth or lower jaw, and finished taxidermy products;

- Modifying the list of species referenced in the regulations to only include known CWD-susceptible species;

- Increasing the ease with which DEC's Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) can enforce DAM regulations to ensure owners of captive-bred, CWD-susceptible animals comply with DAM's captive cervid health requirements;

- Clarifying disposal requirements for taxidermists that process CWD-susceptible animals; and

- Removing text associated with feeding wild deer and moose, as that prohibition is being established in a separate rulemaking.

Public comments will be accepted on these proposals through Oct. 6.

Along with regulation changes affecting hunters, DEC biologists and DAM veterinarians will be conducting joint inspections of captive deer and elk facilities and improving record-sharing among agencies to increase compliance with cervid health requirements. DEC and DAM will also explore several potential oversight and CWD-testing improvements for captive cervid facilities.

DEC issued the following advice to reduce the likelihood that CWD will come into New York. Hunters, taxidermists, and deer processors are directed to:

- Not import whole deer, elk, moose, or caribou carcasses into New York;

- Avoid natural deer urine-based attractants and use synthetics forms instead; and

- Dispose of carcasses and carcass parts properly at approved landfills.

All New Yorkers are encouraged to:

- Report sick or abnormally behaving deer;

- Not feed wild deer or moose; and

- Report violators.

DEC also recently announced that new proposed regulations for the feeding of wild deer and moose and the use of 4-PosterTM devices are available for public comment until Sept. 1. The measure is needed to strengthen and clarify the existing prohibition on the intentional feeding of wild deer and moose. Prohibiting the feeding of wild deer and moose is a best management approach to reduce risks associated with communicable wildlife diseases like chronic wasting disease, minimize conflicts with deer, and protect wildlife habitats. More information can be found on DEC's website.

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