During the last century, state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies, with the support of hunters, restored the white-tailed deer to a condition of abundance. With careful management, hunters throughout the Northeast have enjoyed the rich traditions associated with deer hunting.
These memories and traditions are threatened by a serious and fatal deer disease: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). This disease now occurs in 25 states and three Canadian provinces, having recently spread to Quebec — less than 100 miles from the Vermont border.
CWD is readily spread from deer to deer and is carried in other members of the deer family, including elk, caribou and moose. It wears a deer down, and eventually kills every infected animal. Without action by hunters and state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies, CWD will continue to spread. Left unchecked, CWD will do irreparable harm to deer herds throughout New England, including Vermont, and end the traditions of deer hunting.
While the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is taking all appropriate measures to prevent the spread of CWD into Vermont, we can’t succeed without your help. Here’s what you can do:
Follow Vermont regulations that prohibit the use of urine-based deer lures and 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 of these products are derived from CAPTIVE deer, where the risk of CWD is greatest. Unfortunately, these items can still be sold in Vermont, but it is important that everyone take measures to reduce or eliminate the spread of these materials in our environment. Synthetic lures are legal, equally effective, and will not spread CWD.
Follow Vermont regulations that require harvested deer, moose, or elk from states and provinces with CWD to be deboned prior to entering Vermont. CWD is carried in the brain and spinal cord of infected deer. It is vitally important that these parts of a deer are not transported across state and provincial boundaries. In all cases, ending the transfer of these parts across state and provincial boundaries is another important step in reducing the spread of CWD. This means you should have your deer processed commercially before you move it across a state or provincial boundary, or you should bone out a deer (removing the head and all bones) after you have complied with state and provincial regulations for bringing your deer to a check station.
Report deer that appear sick, weak, or starving to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department so that the animal can be tested for CWD. One of the most important ways of stopping the spread of CWD is early detection. Your reports of potentially sick deer are critically important to our disease monitoring efforts!
This fall, enjoy the hunting season safely and responsibly. And do your part to prevent the spread of CWD across state and provincial borders.