Twenty three states are now home to confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease and the state of Louisiana is taking the necessary steps it hopes will keep the disease out of the state’s cervid population.

The fatal disease that affects deer, elk, moose and other cervids has grown rapidly over the past few years and has wildlife officials and hunters scrambling to contain it.  With confirmed cases in the neighboring states of Texas and Arkansas, Louisiana is still CWD-free.  For the moment.

In an attempt to keep affected animals and the disease outside the state’s borders, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is proposing banning out-of-state carcasses.  What this means is that those that hunt out-of-state would not have the ability to transport the carcass of their kills into the state of Louisiana.

The commission has outlined the parts of cervids killed in other states that would be acceptable to transport into Louisiana as: deboned meat, antlers, clean skull plates with antlers, cleaned skulls without tissue attached, capes, tanned hides, finished taxidermy mounts and cleaned cervid teeth.

The reason behind this proposed change lies in the fact that mutated proteins from infected animals can survive in the environment even without a living host.

“The infective agent in this case can persist outside of the host. That’s very different from most diseases that we’re familiar with. Most are host dependent — they cycle, and they’re here then they’re gone,” Johnathan Bordelon, deer study leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries told Louisiana Sportsman. “But this is very different. It persists in the environment. So once you have it, it’s never going to go away.

“It’s there, and it has the ability to reinfect new animals over time that are exposed to that infective agent… It (CWD) was so far away for so long, and now it’s basically on our doorstep.”

If the new rules are approved, Louisiana will become the 37th state to enforce a ban on interstate transportation of cervid carcasses.

“Obviously there are some challenges and hurdles and inconveniences when you’re trying to prevent a disease like this, so the success of this proposal if it comes to pass in our ability to prevent CWD from entering our state from infected carcasses is really going to be on the effort the hunters put forth,” Bordelon said. “Obviously they’re going to be the deciding factor on the prevention. It’s really up to them to take responsibility and make the effort to reduce the risk to our Louisiana deer herd.”

H/T: Louisiana Sportsman