CONCORD — Last year, a red deer from a captive facility in Quebec tested positive for chronic wasting disease. This remains the closest confirmed case of chronic wasting disease to the New Hampshire border.
It is essential that hunters do everything they can to help prevent this devastating disease from spreading to the Granite State by adhering to New Hampshire laws regarding transport of cervids (members of the deer family including moose, deer, elk, and caribou, as well as any species of captive deer) from chronic wasting disease-positive jurisdictions.
New Hampshire hunters who make trips to chronic wasting disease-positive jurisdictions are required to closely follow the mandatory regulations on bringing home any cervid carcasses. You may legally bring back only deboned meat, antlers, upper canine teeth, hides or capes with no part of the head attached and finished taxidermy mounts. Antlers attached to skull caps or canine teeth must have all soft tissue removed.
To date, chronic wasting disease has been detected in wild or captive cervids in 26 states and three Canadian provinces. These include the states of Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec. The most current list of chronic wasting disease-positive jurisdictions is on the Fish and Game Department’s website at huntnh.com/wildlife/cwd/facts.
A nationwide effort is underway to prevent further spread of the disease. This effort includes collecting annual samples of deer tissue as part of ongoing monitoring and surveillance efforts and restricting the transport and spread of potentially infected animals, carcasses, tissues, and bodily fluids. Movement of captive cervids continues to remain the number one threat in the spread of chronic wasting disease; but transportation of high-risk cervid parts (brain, spinal cord, lymph nodes) across state lines can also play an important role.
The use of natural urine-based lures also poses a threat. Several states and Canadian provinces have already banned the use and possession of natural urine-based lures due to the potential for disease transmission. There are multiple synthetic deer lures on the market today that do not pose a risk of spreading disease that can be used as an alternative to natural urine.
During the fall deer hunting season, state Fish and Game, with significant support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services located in Concord, collects heads and extracts samples from hunter-killed deer across the state for testing. As a result of these efforts, 6,260 deer have been tested in New Hampshire since testing began in 2002.
No samples have tested positive for chronic wasting disease to date. But all it takes is for one piece of contaminated material to be brought across the state border to change the future of New Hampshire’s deer herd forever. This is why it is vital that hunters do all they can to Help Our Herd stay chronic wasting disease free.
For more information about chronic wasting disease, its cause, preventing its spread, and New Hampshire’s monitoring efforts, visit the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website at huntnh.com/wildlife/cwd.
New York is no longer considered a chronic wasting disease-positive jurisdiction by New Hampshire. However, New York-killed deer still may not be transported through Massachusetts or Vermont.