The National Deer Association (NDA) recently submitted comments to the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks regarding a recent Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) proposal to amend chronic wasting disease (CWD) rules in Mississippi. MDWFP’s recommendation would allow hunters to transport deer heads outside of a MDWFP-defined CWD Management Zone to a permitted taxidermist participating in the CWD collection program.
One of the NDA’s critical focus areas is deer diseases, and CWD more specifically. Through our extensive work on this issue across North America, we know that proactive research and testing – especially in known CWD areas – is critically important to the management of the disease and wild deer herds. The NDA believes that the best method for limiting the spread of CWD is to prohibit all transportation of live deer and elk and transportation of potentially-infected deer carcasses and parts out of CWD zones. We will continue to encourage hunters to learn how to debone, cape, process and dispose of deer properly themselves or use taxidermists and processors within their area of harvest.
Still, we understand that the proposal is aimed at protecting the long-term health of Mississippi’s deer herd and hunting heritage for current and future generations by increasing CWD sampling via approved taxidermists and maintaining hunter engagement in CWD Management Zones. We believe the use of MDFWP-approved businesses, which have appropriate carcass handling and disposal methods in place, could be a safe way to move deer heads out of CWD Management Zones for testing. However, enforcement of this program would be key, and we encourage MDFWP to fully consider all options to ensure strict compliance with the proposed changes. If enforced properly, the disease monitoring and management gains resulting from the proposal should outweigh the potential risks.
We applaud MDWFP’s and the Commission’s continued proactive action on CWD issues and management, and we encourage MDWFP to take all steps necessary to ensure these proposals are executed and enforced as efficiently and effectively as possible. The NDA stands ready to help Mississippi in the on-going fight against CWD.