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Family Cervidae Importation Ban
NOTE: Hunters may not bring whole deer carcasses into Alabama from other states or countries.
Importation of the following is allowed:
- Meat from the family Cervidae (white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, fallow deer, red deer, sika deer, caribou, reindeer, etc.) that has been completely deboned.
- Cleaned skull plates with bare attached antlers, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present.
- Unattached bare antlers or sheds.
- Raw capes, if no visible brain or spinal cord tissue is present.
- Upper canine teeth, if no root structure or other soft tissue is present.
- Finished taxidermy products or tanned hides.
- Velvet-covered antlers are prohibited unless part of a finished taxidermy product.
What is CWD?
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of deer and elk. This disease belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The disease attacks the brains of infected deer and elk and causes animals to become emaciated (skinny), display abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions, and die. To date, CWD has been diagnosed in free-ranging or captive cervids in 25 states and three Canadian provinces. No cases of CWD have been found in Alabama.
Although a variety of species can be experimentally infected with CWD, there is currently no evidence that the disease can be spread naturally from cervids to livestock. CWD is not known to be transmissible to humans or domestic livestock.
Can people become sick from eating meat from a deer with CWD?
No case of human disease has been directly linked to CWD. Examination of the available data has led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to conclude that there is no scientific evidence of CWD infecting humans. However, as a precaution, the WHO recommends people or other animals eat no part of a deer diagnosed with CWD. CDC now recommends hunters strongly consider testing deer taken from areas where CWD is known to exist prior to consuming the meat.
What is the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries doing to keep CWD from reaching our state?
The Division is currently taking several measures to help prevent CWD from reaching our state. The State has had a regulation banning the importation of all cervids (members of the deer family) into Alabama since 1973. Fines for violating this regulation are significant. The Division started an active monitoring program for CWD during the 2001-02 hunting season. Since then, nearly 8,000 deer have been tested and CWD has not been detected within Alabama.
What can the public do to help?
Citizens of Alabama can assist the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries with its CWD monitoring program. Report any transport of live deer, elk, or other cervids on Alabama's roads and highways by calling Operation Game Watch at 1-800-272-4263. Contacting the Division immediately makes it more likely these animals will be intercepted before they can be released.
The public also can help the Division in their monitoring program. A CWD-infected deer will behave abnormally, showing little of their normal wariness or fear of humans. Infected animals also will become emaciated (skinny). It is important to note that other diseases, including brain abscesses and chronic cases of hemorrhagic disease, may exhibit similar symptoms.
If you spot a deer that exhibits these clinical signs of CWD, report it in one of the following ways.
- Call the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Office nearest you.
- Call the Operation Game Watch line at 1-800-272-4263.
- Report a sick deer online.
How can you tell if a deer has CWD?
The only way to diagnose CWD is through lab testing of brain and lymph node tissue. Although deer at the end stages of CWD do have some typical signs and symptoms (very thin, acting tame/disoriented, drooling, standing abnormally), there are other diseases and injuries that can cause similar symptoms and behaviors. In addition, a CWD-positive deer may appear completely healthy sometimes for years before beginning to show any symptoms. Photos of Deer with CWD from the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance.
Can a deer that appears healthy still have CWD?
Yes. It may take months to years before an infected deer begins to act or appear sick.
Does a deer that appears sick always have CWD?
No. Diseases such as Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) or a brain abscess can cause signs and symptoms much like those of CWD. Deer that are old or compromised in other ways can also show the same symptoms. Even a deer that has been hit by a car may exhibit some behaviors also associated with CWD. Not every sick deer will have CWD.
What is the difference between Hemorrhagic Disease and CWD?
Although both of these diseases can cause a deer to die, they are not similar in origin or method of spread. Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) is a known and expected deer disease in Alabama. HD is a viral disease that is expected to kill some deer in Alabama every year. It is spread through small, biting midges (gnats).
Many deer recover from HD. A deer with HD typically either recovers or dies within a few days. CWD is always fatal and may take many years to kill a deer. HD is only spread by the insect vectors. CWD can spread directly from deer to deer, or from a contaminated surface or environment. HD is typically an issue from mid-summer to the time of first frost when colder weather eliminates the midges for the year. CWD can persist in an area for many years – and continue to spread and infect deer through a contaminated environment.
What are other states doing about CWD?
The following chart chart provides a brief summary of CWD-related laws, regulations or policies by state and provinces.
Alabama's CWD Response Plan
Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) formalized a CWD Strategic Surveillance and Response Plan (SSRP) in January 2013. The CWD SSRP was established to serve as a guide to WFF when developing management strategies to monitor for CWD and implementing management strategies should CWD occur within Alabama or near its border. The CWD SSRP is intended to be dynamic; management strategies described within are reviewed and updated periodically as both the epidemiology and management of the disease becomes better understood through time. Download a copy of the latest CWD SSRP below.