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Wildlife Commission reminds hunters of deer carcass importation restrictions

RALEIGH, N.C. — With deer season here, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reminds hunters that the importation of whole deer carcasses is prohibited and that strict processing and packaging regulations must be followed to import specific carcass parts from anywhere outside of North Carolina.

These deer carcass importation restrictions apply to every state, including South Carolina, which was partially exempt from restrictions in 2019, as well as any foreign country, to help prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into the state. CWD is a transmissible, always fatal, neurological disease that affects deer and other cervids such as elk, moose and reindeer/caribou.

“North Carolina processors have had to turn deer away that have unlawfully been transported into our state without proper preparation as it pertains to importation laws,” said Maj. Philip Lucas, the agency’s Law Enforcement Division Major of Field Operations. “We want to educate hunters about how to comply with regulations to minimize the risk of disease being transported into our state.”

Anyone transporting cervid carcass parts into North Carolina must follow processing and packaging regulations, which only allow the importation of:

• Meat that has been boned out such that no pieces or fragments of bone remain;

• Caped hides with no part of the skull or spinal column attached;

• Antlers, antlers attached to cleaned skull plates, or cleaned skulls free from meat, or brain tissue;

• Cleaned lower jawbone(s) with teeth or cleaned teeth; or

• Finished taxidermy products and tanned hides.

Additionally, all carcass parts or containers of cervid meat or carcass parts must be labeled or identified with the:

• Name and address of individual importing carcass parts;

• State, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin;

• Date the cervid was killed; and

• Hunter’s license number, permit number, or equivalent identification from the state, Canadian province, or foreign country of origin.

Most states, including North Carolina, have special processing/packaging rules for anyone returning with a deer, elk, moose or reindeer/caribou taken in another state or province. All hunters traveling out of state to hunt, should know the rules of their home state as well as the rules for the states they are traveling through.

CWD has not been detected in North Carolina but continues to be transferred great distances at an accelerated rate across the continent. Currently, 26 states, including two states bordering North Carolina — Virginia and Tennessee — have confirmed cases of CWD in their wild white-tailed deer herds.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) disease in deer, elk, moose and reindeer/caribou and is always fatal. The source of the disease is an abnormal prion (a form of protein) that collects in, and eventually destroys the animal’s brain cells. Once infected, it can take over 16 months for clinical signs to develop, and individuals appear healthy for most of the infection period. Due to the neurological effects of the disease, deer in the final stages of the CWD may exhibit several signs including: weight loss, listlessness and lack of coordination, drooling, drinking lots of water and increased urination. To date there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the Commission recommends people do NOT eat:

• Meat from a deer that looks sick

• Any of the following organs: brain, eyes, spinal cord, spleen, tonsils and lymph nodes* (Normal field dressing coupled with boning out a carcass will remove most — if not all — of these body parts. Cutting away all fatty tissue will remove remaining lymph nodes.)

• Any meat from an animal that tests positive for the disease

How To Prep a Deer (Cape and Skull Plate) for Importation to North Carolina

To help hunters better understand how to comply with new regulations, the Commission has posted a video “Preparing a Harvested Deer for Importation to NC,” on its YouTube Channel, which features a demonstration by Taxidermist D. Price of Outback Taxidermy on preparation of a deer carcass for importation into the state.

For more information about CWD, visit the Commission’s CWD web page.

Due to COVID-19, we encourage the public to visit ncwildlife.org to purchase fishing, trapping and hunting licenses and to renew a vessel registration. For the most up-to-date information on agency-related closures, cancellations and postponements visit ncwildlife.org/covid19.