OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) reminds hunters who travel to other states that big game carcass transport back into Washington is restricted to reduce the risk of transmitting chronic wasting disease (CWD).
CWD is a fatal illness among deer, elk and moose in several states and Canadian provinces that could be spread to Washington through the importation of some parts of those animals.
So far, the deadly disease has not been found in Washington's wildlife, despite testing of thousands of animals since 1995.
“We don’t want any deer, elk, or moose heads coming into taxidermy shops or anywhere else from states or provinces with chronic wasting disease unless they are absolutely clean,” said WDFW veterinarian Kristin Mansfield. “That means that there must be no hide, muscle, or especially brain tissue attached.”
The states and provinces with CWD are Alberta, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Saskatchewan, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
As described on page 98 of Washington’s 2009 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet, the only parts of deer, elk or moose from these places that can legally be imported to Washington are:
- Meat that has been de-boned in the state or province where it was harvested.
- Skulls and antlers, antlers attached to the skull plate, or upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, ivories) from which all soft tissue has been removed.
- Hides or capes without heads attached.
- Tissue imported for use by a diagnostic or research laboratory.
- Finished taxidermy mounts.
Violation of this rule (RCW 77.15.290) is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine or one year in jail.
Research to date indicates that CWD, one form of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, is not likely to be transmitted to humans, Mansfield said.
“We need hunters’ help to keep CWD from getting started here,” she said.
Hunters from eastern Washington can assist in that effort by stopping at WDFW check stations with harvested deer or elk so tissue samples can be taken for testing, she said. If check stations aren’t available, eastern Washington hunters should make arrangements for fresh tissue sampling by calling (509) 989-6224.