A few days ago, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife put out a release on their website, detailing that Chronic Wasting Disease had been discovered in Quebec. And that they are issuing a warning about to trying to do everything to stop it from coming into Maine.

According to their page at Maine.gov, the MDIFW describes Chronic Wasting Disease as:

...an always fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, moose and other cervids such as elk and caribou. CWD is caused by a mutant protein called a prion, which causes lesions in the brain. Research shows prions can be shed in saliva, blood, urine, feces, antler velvet, and body fat. Prions bind to soil where they can remain infectious for years. CWD is always fatal, there is no treatment, vaccine or resistance, and once present in the state, it is nearly impossible to eradicate.

And Chandler Woodcock of the MDIFW had this to say about it as well:

Chronic Wasting Disease is the most serious threat facing our deer and moose populations in modern times.  Unchecked, this disease could devastate Maine's Deer and Moose populations, and ravage Maine's hunting and wildlife watching economy.

They have detailed a few ways you can try and stop the spread of CWD here in Maine. It's illegal now to bring in deer harvested from out of state, except in these ways:

  • boned-out meat; properly identified and labeled. hardened antlers
  • skull caps with or without antlers attached that have been cleaned free of brain and other tissues
  • capes and hides with no skull attached
  • teeth
  • finished taxidermy mounts.

And lastly, here are their suggestions for trying to keep CWD to minimum:

  • Do not use urine-based deer lures or 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 these products are derived from CAPTIVE deer, where the risk of CWD is greatest. While currently legal, avoid using these products in order to protect Maine's moose and deer herd.
  • Please follow the laws and rules regarding the importation of harvested deer, moose, or elk from any state or provinces (other than New Hampshire). CWD carried in the brain and spinal cord of infected deer. It is vitally important that these parts are not transported across state and provincial boundaries.
  • Report deer that appear sick, weak, or starving to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife so that the animal can be tested for CWD. Early detection is the key in stopping the spread of CWD.
  • Avoid feeding deer and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Feeding artificially concentrates deer, creating conditions increase the risk of CWD transmission. Feeding also attracts deer from long distances, increasing the likelihood of the disease becoming established in Maine.

Deer hunting is an old, old tradition here in Maine. My great, great, great Uncle Buckshot used to hunt for logging camps at the turn of the 20th century. All year long. But back then, things like this weren't the issue they seem to be today. Man is likely contributing to the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, so it's up to us to wipe it out. So please....do your part to help!