The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on Friday announced new rules to limit the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), which affects cervids including deer, elk and moose. CWD is a lethal “transmissible spongiform encephalopathy” similar to BSE in cattle, although there is no evidence to date that CWD can spread to cattle or to humans.
The new interim final rule will establish a national CWD herd-certification program and minimum requirements for interstate movement of cervid animals in the United States.
Farmed or captive deer and elk have been, in numerous cases, implicated in the spread of CWD to wild herds, which has resulted in large-scale culling of animals and economic losses in areas where hunting generates significant revenue. According to APHIS, CWD has been reported in farmed or captive cervids in 11 states since testing began in 1997.
Just last week, the Missouri Department of Conservation announced it will loosen deer-hunting restrictions in a six-county area in the northern part of the state for this fall, in response to the discovery of CWD in two deer killed during last-year’s hunting season. After that discovery, the department killed over 650 deer in the area and three of those tested positive for CWD. All of the infected wild deer were killed near a captive-deer facility where 11 animals previously tested positive for the disease.
“It is important that we have a nationwide CWD herd certification program for farmed or captive cervids,” says USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford. “The amendments we are making to our CWD rule will help to control the spread of this disease, support the growing U.S. cervid industry, and complement existing state CWD programs.”
APHIS is issuing the interim final rule and requesting public comment for 30 days. After reviewing the public comments, the Agency will issue a final rule and, should there be a need, incorporate any changes made in response to comments received by the Agency. The interim final rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Participating States then will have 180 days before APHIS begins enforcing the interstate movement provisions in the regulation.
Read the interim final rule from USDA/APHIS.