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Quebec deer infected with wasting disease raises alarm in Maine

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The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIF&W) announced on Oct. 11 the issuance of emergency rules to protect Maine’s deer and moose populations. MDIF&W advised that a captive deer in neighboring Quebec was found to be infected with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

In other states, especially in the West, CWD has infected elk and mule deer and has been a critical cause for concern among wildlife managers for a number of years. CWD is always fatal and easily spread among cervids, both in the wild and in captivity.

MDIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock said that “CWD is the most serious threat facing our deer and moose in modern times.”

The Department has implemented the following rules:

In order to halt the spread of CWD and keep this devastating disease out of Maine, the Department has implemented the following rules regarding the importation of deer and other cervids into the state of Maine. It is now illegal to bring cervid carcasses or parts except in the following manner:

boned-out meat; properly identified and labeled.

hardened antlers;

skull caps with or without antlers attached that have been cleaned free of brain and other tissues;

capes and hides with no skull attached;

teeth; and

finished taxidermy mounts.

In addition, the rule also prohibits the temporary importation of cervid carcasses and parts that are in-transit through Maine to another jurisdiction. These rules apply to all states and provinces with the exception of New Hampshire.

In addition, the Department urges all hunters to help halt the spread of CWD by following these guidelines:

Do not use urine-based deer lures or scents. CWD can be introduced into the soil with these scents and lures and lay dormant for years before infecting a deer herd. Many, if not all these products are derived from CAPTIVE deer, where the risk of CWD is greatest. While currently legal, avoid using these products in order to protect Maines moose and deer herd.

Please follow the laws and rules regarding the importation of harvested deer, moose, or elk from any state or provinces (other than New Hampshire). CWD is carried in the brain and spinal cord of infected deer. It is vitally important that these parts are not transported across state and provincial boundaries.

Report deer that appear sick, weak, or starving to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife so that the animal can be tested for CWD. Early detection is the key in stopping the spread of CWD.

Avoid feeding deer and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Feeding artificially concentrates deer, creating conditions increasing the risk of CWD transmission. Feeding also attracts deer from long distances, increasing the likelihood of the disease becoming established in Maine.

It is not alarmist to acknowledge the potential harm that this untreatable disease poses to Maine’s deer and moose. Preventive measures at this juncture are voluntary. This could change as state wildlife managers and the state Department of Agriculture officials monitor the situation.
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The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books; online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.

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