Parts of elk and deer that contain brain or nervous system tissue and were harvested in states where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been confirmed cannot be legally imported into South Carolina.
South Carolinians planning out-of-state trips to hunt big game this fall should be aware of restrictions on importing deer and elk parts into the Palmetto State.
With big game seasons opening in many Western states, the Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters traveling out-of-state not to import into South Carolina certain carcass parts from deer and elk harvested in areas where confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) have occurred.
States where CWD has been diagnosed include Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. CWD has also been found in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
CWD belongs to the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to mad cow disease. The disease is infectious, communicable and always fatal.
A large stumbling block for wildlife professionals attempting to understand how the disease is transmitted is that CWD has a prolonged incubation period of up to two years, and no approved test exists to detect the disease in live animals; diagnosis requires examination of the brain.
Although wildlife health officials are conducting considerable research, the overall biological and epidemiological understanding of CWD remains poor.
To ensure that South Carolina’s white-tailed deer resource remains protected, the SCDNR continues to maintain regulations restricting the importation of certain carcass parts from deer and elk harvested in the U.S. states and Canadian provinces where CWD has been documented.
These regulations do not prevent hunters from bringing home harvested game meat, since most game taken outside of South Carolina is processed in the state where it was harvested.
To comply with state regulations, hunters traveling to states with confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease may only bring the following carcass parts into South Carolina:
• Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached
• Meat that has been boned out
• Hides with no heads attached
• Clean skulls (no meat or tissue attached) or clean skull plates with antlers attached
• Antlers (detached from the skull plate)
• Clean upper canine teeth of elk, also called "buglers," "whistlers" or "ivories"
• Finished taxidermy heads
Hunters may not import whole carcasses or parts of deer or elk that contain nervous system tissue such as the brain or spinal column.
Hunters traveling out-of-state should also check with the wildlife agency in their destination state to determine its CWD status and follow any restrictions that state may have on the movement of carcasses.
South Carolina joins many other states in letting hunters know how they can help fight the spread of CWD. The disease represents a very significant threat to North America’s deer and elk populations, and it may be the most notable wildlife disease situation the country has ever faced.
The DNR has conducted surveillance for CWD in South Carolina since 1998. To date, the disease has not been documented in South Carolina or any Southeastern state in the vicinity of South Carolina. Surveillance since 2002 has included samples from all 46 South Carolina counties, and over 6,000 total deer have been tested.
For more information on chronic wasting disease see the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website.