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Chronic Wasting Disease in Maryland

Hunting Regulations Icon Maryland Hunting

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a disease of the brain and nervous system in the deer family (Cervidae). It has been found in the following free ranging cervids: elk, moose, mule deer, reindeer, and white-tailed deer. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy and attacks the brain of cervids, producing small lesions that eventually result in death. Maryland DNR has tested over 8,500 random hunter-harvested deer for CWD since 2002, and first detected the disease in November 2010. The infected deer was harvested by a hunter in Allegany County and was most likely part of an outbreak discovered nearby in Hampshire County, West Virginia, in 2005. To date, eleven (11) infected deer have been detected in Allegany County.

Concerns over CWD should not stop hunters from enjoying the hunting season or any venison they may acquire. CWD has not been shown to be transmissible to humans. However, it is recommended that hunters field-dressing or butchering deer take the same precautions as they might to protect against other pathogens or diseases. The following common-sense precautionary measures are recommended for the safe handling, field-dressing and processing of venison:

  • Avoid shooting or handling a deer that appears sick.
  • Wear latex or rubber gloves when field-dressing or butchering deer.
  • Remove all internal organs.
  • Remove the meat from the bones and spinal column if home processing a deer.
  • Do not use household knives or utensils when field-dressing or home processing a deer.
  • Avoid cutting through bones or the spinal column (backbone).
  • If you saw off antlers or through a bone, or if you sever the spinal column with a knife, be sure to disinfect these tools prior to using them for the butchering or removal of meat.
  • Remove all fat, membranes and connective tissue from the meat. Note that normal field-dressing and trimming of fat from meat will remove lymph nodes.
  • Always wash hands and instruments thoroughly after dressing and processing game meat.
  • Use a 50/50 solution of household chlorine bleach and water to disinfect tools and work surfaces. Wipe down counters and let them dry; soak knives for one hour.

The following taxidermists and meat processors are currently approved to prepare or process deer carcasses or deer parts taken from within Maryland’s Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area (CWDMA). This provision provides an opportunity for hunters harvesting deer within Maryland’s CWDMA to transport carcasses or other deer parts directly to one of these approved businesses for meat processing, taxidermy services or for preparation for transport to another taxidermist. Please consult the Maryland DNR website at dnr.maryland.gov for an up-to-date list of approved processors and taxidermists.

Meat Processors

  • B&B Country Meats, Frostburg, 301-689-6225
  • B&B Butchering, Orleans, 301-478-2558
  • Snurr Bonez Wild Game Processing, Cumberland, 301-777-0450
  • Ernst Market, Clear Spring, 301-842-2292
  • Holsinger’s Meats and Deli, Maugansville, 301-733-9263
  • Sunnyland/Ray Burger’s Meats, Williamsport, 301-223-9637

Taxidermists

  • Fairview Wildlife Studio, Hagerstown, 301-791-1568
  • Kline’s Taxidermy, Smithsburg, 301-416-0201

Chronic Wasting Disease Management Area Boundary Description

The Maryland CWDMA includes all of Allegany County and Harvest Management Unit 250 in western Washington County.

  • Eastern Boundary: I-70 from the Maryland/Pennsylvania border south to Rt. 522, then south on Rt. 522 to the Maryland/West Virginia border.
  • Southern Boundary: The Maryland/West Virginia border from Rt. 522 west to the Allegany/Garrett County line.
  • Western Boundary: The Allegany/Garrett County line from the Maryland/West Virginia border north to the Maryland/Pennsylvania border.
  • Northern Boundary: The Maryland/Pennsylvania border from the Allegany/Garrett County line east to I-70.

CWD Management

Due to the detection of CWD in Allegany County, DNR has implemented a number of measures to prevent the unintentional spread of CWD to other locations in Maryland or surrounding states. The changes outlined below apply only to the CWDMA, which currently is all of Allegany County and Harvest Management Unit 250 in western Washington County, regardless of whether it was taken on private or public land.

Whole deer carcasses or deer parts cannot be transported out of the CWDMA, except for:

  • meat with no part of the spinal column; backbone, or head attached;
  • hind quarters and front shoulders with no spinal column or backbone attached;
  • cleaned hide with no head attached;
  • skull plate cleaned of all meat and brain tissue;
  • antlers with no meat or soft tissue attached;
  • finished taxidermy mounts or tanned hides;
  • whole deer carcasses or parts being transported directly to the meat processors and taxidermists listed here or on the DNR website, or to lined landfills within Allegany County or Washington County.

Please check the DNR website (dnr.maryland.gov) for updates on CWD surveillance and management in Maryland. Hunter assistance and cooperation is essential to the DNR’s efforts to monitor and manage CWD in Maryland.

Carcass Importation Ban

The primary objective in the management of CWD is to prevent its spread into new areas. One possible mode of disease transmission is by the movement and disposal of infected carcasses. In an effort to minimize the risk for disease spread, Maryland, along with many other states, has adopted regulations that restrict the importation of whole carcasses and certain carcass parts of deer, moose and elk harvested from states or areas in states that have CWD.

A person may not import the whole carcass of a dead deer, elk, or moose into Maryland from another state or province’s designated CWD containment, surveillance, or management area, unless the final destination of the carcass is within the Maryland CWDMA or with a CWD-approved Maryland processor or taxidermist. Travelers may pass through any part of Maryland with whole carcasses from other state/province CWD areas if the carcasses will not remain in the state for more than 24 hours, and no parts are disposed of or remain in the state. A person may import only the following parts of a carcass into Maryland if the final destination is within the state but outside the CWDMA:

  • meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached;
  • hind quarters and front shoulders with no spinal column or backbone attached;
  • meat without backbone;
  • cleaned hide with no head attached;
  • skull plate cleaned of all meat and brain tissue;
  • antlers with no meat or soft tissue attached;
  • upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers, or ivories; and
  • finished taxidermy mount or tanned hides.

Please consult the CWD Alliance website at cwd-info.org for a complete list of state and province CWD containment, surveillance, and management areas.

Any person who imports or possesses a cervid carcass or part of a cervid that was tested for chronic wasting disease in another state or province and is notified that the cervid tested positive, must report the test results to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours of receiving such notification- by telephone at 301-842-0332; or by FAX 301-842-1026; or by email to brian.eyler@maryland.gov.

If you hunt deer, elk, moose or other cervids in other states and/or provinces, particularly those in which CWD has been detected, check with the respective fish and wildlife agencies regarding special regulations or specific advice for hunters. Also check with your home state fish and wildlife agency to ensure that animals lawfully killed elsewhere may be imported and possessed in your state. Additional information can be found at the CWD alliance website cwd-info.org and the Maryland DNR website dnr.maryland.gov.

Taking Deer Carcasses out of Maryland

Because Maryland is considered a CWD positive state, deer hunters must follow carcass importation regulations in other states when they transport a deer carcass out of Maryland. The surrounding states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia each have specific regulations as to whether they will allow whole deer carcasses or only parts of carcasses to enter from Maryland. Likewise, the regulations for each of these states vary as to whether they apply to deer from anywhere in Maryland, or just to deer taken within the CWDMA. Hunters are strongly encouraged to check state regulations before transporting deer carcasses.