Maine's deer population is still free of a fatal nervous system disease. Hunters need to do their part to keep it this way. Here's how.

As more hunters begin to head into the woods for deer seasons in Maine and around the country, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is getting the word out about Chronic Wasting Disease.

So far, there have been no cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Maine. The illness is 100% fatal in deer, and could also pose human health risks. CWD has been found in 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. If established in Maine, the effects would be devastating on the white-tailed deer herd and Maine's rich hunting heritage.

Here's how to keep Chronic Wasting Disease out of Maine, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

  • Don't use urine-based lures: IFW says, "If these deer or elk are infected, CWD prions may be present in the lures. Once prions are in the environment, they can remain in the soils for years, creating multiple opportunities for Maine deer to contact and ingest them." Biologists recommend using synthetic, non-urine-based lures.
  • Follow Maine's import laws: According to IFW laws, "It is illegal to transport high-risk wild deer, caribou, moose or elk carcass parts into Maine from any state or province except New Hampshire. hunters may return to Maine only with boned-out meat, hardened antlers (with or without skull caps), hides without the head portion, and finished taxidermy mounts. If still attached, skull caps should be cleaned free of brain and other tissues."
  • On out-of-state hunts, take extra precautions: IFW recommends hunters be extra cautious when handling out-of-state deer, moose, caribou, or elk. When field dressing, wear rubber or latex gloves and minimize contact with the brain spinal cord, spleen, and lymph nodes. Bone out the meat, and remove all fat and connective tissue. If your out-of-state deer is sampled for CWD testing, wait for the test results before eating the meat.
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IDW warns if Chronic Wasting Disease ever took hold in Maine the effects could lead to major reductions in deer hunting.

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