Green Guide

Illegal deer carcass import cases mounting

Posted 11:08 a.m. Wednesday

— A new regulation adopted by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks bans the importation of certain deer parts into Mississippi from areas with chronic wasting disease and so far the department has cited 12 hunters suspected of not complying.

"I don't know if it's apathy or they're just not aware," said MDWFP Lt. Chris Reed. "We've talked about it a good deal.

"We publicized it a fair amount. We've had it on our website. We've talked about it on radio. We've had a video on the website talking about it. A couple of the cases claim to be unaware of it, but you don't know."

According to MDWFP, the rule is an effort to prevent the introduction of chronic wasting disease, which is fatal for members of the Cervidae family, into Mississippi. Under Rule 2.7, which was passed in May, "It is unlawful to import, transport, or possess any portion of a cervid carcass originating from any state, territory, or foreign country where the occurrence of CWD has been confirmed by either the state wildlife agency, state agriculture agency, state veterinarian, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)."

Animal carcasses included in the ban are white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, caribou, red deer, sitka deer and fallow deer.

However, hunters may bring the following into Mississippi:

.Meat from cervids that has been completely deboned.

.Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates or cleaned skulls where no tissue is attached to the skull.

.Cleaned teeth.

.Finished taxidermy and antler products.

.Hides and tanned products.

.Any portions of white-tailed deer originating from the land between the Mississippi River levees in Arkansas.

According to MDWFP, some of the cases against the hunters were made through information provided by concerned citizens, other state agencies and federal agencies. The accused hunters face Class III violations.

"It's a maximum fine of $100 plus court costs, but we are seizing the deer that are being illegally brought into the state," Reed said.

The rule was put in place following the discovery of CWD in Arkansas earlier this year. It was the first time the disease has been confirmed in a state bordering Mississippi. As of Nov. 17, officials in Arkansas have confirmed 137 cases of the disease in white-tailed deer and elk.

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