Deer in Spring Landscape

Cervid Importation Regulations

In September of 2006, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced a new regulation that restricts the importation of meat and parts of deer, elk, moose and other cervids from AREAS WITHIN those states and Canadian provinces that have confirmed cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a naturally occurring disease of the brain and nervous system of deer, elk and moose.

According to the regulation, a hunter may only bring into Maryland the following parts of a dead deer, elk, moose or other cervid taken from a CWD positive area in another state or province:

  • Meat without the backbone
  • Meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
  • Cleaned hide with no head attached
  • Skull plate cleaned of all meat and brain tissue
  • Antlers with no meat or soft tissue attached
  • Clean upper canine teeth, also known as buglers, whistlers or ivories
  • Finished taxidermy mount or tanned hide

The restricted deer body parts (brain, spinal column, lymph glands, etc) contain the highest concentrations of infectious tissues. By restricting the importation of high-risk tissues from known CWD infected areas, the risk of CWD being transported into Maryland is reduced.

The importation regulation applies to deer, elk, moose and other cervids taken from CWD positive areas or containment zones as identified in the states and Canadian provinces listed at the following link: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/deer/disease/cwdinformation.asp. Restrictions on importation only apply to those areas identified in state or province as CWD-Positive. Hunters should visit the appropriate state or provincial website to determine if they will be hunting in a CWD positive area.

Any person who imports or possesses a deer, elk, moose or other cervid carcass or part of a cervid carcass that was tested for CWD in another state or province and is notified that the cervid tested positive, must report the test results to DNR within 24 hours of receiving the notification. The person must notify DNR by calling 301-842-0332, faxing 301-842-1026 or emailing beyler@dnr.state.md.us

Travelers may pass through Maryland with deer, elk, moose or other cervid carcasses, provided that no parts are disposed of or remain in the state.

While no human has been infected by CWD, hunters and others who handle cervid carcasses should remain vigilant in their meat-handling techniques.

DNR recommends the following common sense tips for handling any harvested cervid:

  • 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.
  • Do not use household knives or utensils.
  • Avoid cutting through bones or the spinal column (backbone).
  • Never eat a deer’s brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen or lymph nodes.
  • If you saw antlers off, cut through a bone, or if you sever the spinal cord 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 the 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 and tools for 1 hour.

Additional CWD information is available on The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance web site http://www.cwd-info.org/

Contact:Brian Eyler
Deer Project Biologist
Wildlife & Heritage Service
Phone: 301-842-0332
Fax: 301-842-1026
beyler@dnr.state.md.us