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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)

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What is CWD:

  • CWD is a fatal brain disease of white-tailed deer, mule deer, caribou, moose, and elk. It is similar to mad cow disease which occurs in cattle.
  • CWD occurs in wild deer populations in 18 states and 2 provinces in the U.S. and Canada, including within states as close as Pennsylvania and New York.
  • CWD has not yet been recorded as being transmissible to people. However, a human variant of the disease does exist.
  • CWD can persist in the environment outside of a host for many years.
  • CWD has a 100% mortality rate in deer.

CWD Monitoring and Prevention in Maine:

  • Maine has actively monitored for CWD each year since 1999, and since that time screened approximately 9,000 wild deer. Thus far Maine proudly remains CWD free.
  • It is illegal for individuals to bring into Maine cervid carcasses or parts, except that the following carcass parts may be imported and possessed: boned-out meat, hardened antlers, skull caps that have been cleaned free of brain and other tissues, capes and hides with no skull attached, teeth, and finished taxidermy mounts.
  • Note: Cervid carcasses or parts from New Hampshire and provinces of New Brunswick, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Quebec are exempt from this transportation restriction.
  • MDIF&W prohibits the transportation of unprocessed deer carcasses, and/or parts, into Maine from states that are not directly adjacent to our state.
  • MDIF&W will not transplant deer from other states into Maine.

MDIF&W Recommends that Individuals:

  • Contact their regional wildlife biologist, or warden, if an animal shows clinical signs of illness, such as loss of fear of humans, drooling, and/or excessive weight loss.
  • Take precautionary steps such as using latex gloves while processing a harvested deer, and sterilizing their equipment following processing. These steps will help to reduce potential transmission of the disease to humans. Again, thus far CWD has not been identified in a person.
  • Avoid consumption of the brain and spinal tissues.
  • Refrain from feeding deer during the winter months as high densities of deer within a small area can increase disease transmission.
  • Do not use urine based lures as CWD has been shown to be spread via bodily fluids. To the best of our knowledge commercial lures are not currently monitored for CWD. If you choose to utilize urine-based lures be certain to place it in a location that deer cannot come in contact with.

Department Check Stations

Our wildlife biologists annually collect information that allows the Department to assess the condition and productivity of Maine’s deer population. Much of the information we collect comes from hunter harvested deer. As such, the information you provide us with is used directly for deer management purposes, in Maine. A summary of the information we collect from you can be found within our Annual Research and Management Reports.

Waste of Game

A person may not waste a wild bird or wild animal that has been wounded or killed while hunting. For purposes of this section “waste” means to intentionally leave a wounded or killed animal in the field or forest without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and render it for consumption or use. This law does not apply to coyotes.

Caution on Liver & Kidney Consumption

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that the liver and kidneys of moose not be eaten because of possible contamination with the heavy metal cadmium. Also, recent studies have shown smaller amounts of cadmium in liver tissues from Maine deer, and deer, elk and antelope from other States. Maine health officials recommend that deer liver consumption be limited to 0.8 pounds in one sitting and 1 to 113 pounds per week. Human symptoms of acute cadmium poisoning include severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps and salivation. There is no known health risk from eating moose meat or deer meat.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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