Though Alabama is one of the best whitetail deer states in the nation, there’s an undeniable appeal for many hunters to visiting other areas during the deer season, particularly those in the Midwest and in Canada where deer get a whole lot bigger and grow larger racks than those found anywhere in the South.
But this year that can be a bit of a problem for any hunter who does not carefully follow the new regulations put in place by Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) to protect our state deer herds from chronic wasting disease or CWD, the highly-contagious and fatal infection found in many states where whitetails are present these days.
Larry Durham, 51, of Jackson County, was charged Nov 6 with violating the state’s new CWD carcass ban for returning to Alabama with a deer harvested in Illinois, a known CWD state. In addition to violating Alabama’s CWD ban, Durham violated Illinois law by harvesting the buck without the proper tag. Charges from Illinois are forthcoming.
The deer was sent to Auburn University for CWD testing and disposal. CWD is a fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of deer. Once introduced into the environment, it is impossible to eradicate, according to ADCNR.
It was an anonymous tip from another Alabama resident traveling through Illinois that led to the charges against Durham.
“The caller, who knew about the CWD ban, stated they were behind a truck travelling south with Alabama plates that was loaded with hunting gear and a recently harvested buck,” said Chris Champion, a Senior Conservation Enforcement Officer with the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) District I Office.
Based on that tip WFF, with assistance from the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, began a coordinated effort to locate Durham before he entered Alabama.
“Safeguarding Alabama’s deer resources against CWD merits everyone’s assistance,” said Kevin Dodd, WFF Law Enforcement Chief. “It’s easy to take a ‘not my business’ approach. However, the caller was concerned about protecting his children’s deer hunting future and decided to report the suspicious activity. He is to be commended for being part of the solution.”
CWD apparently does not transmit to humans, but it has the capability of decimating deer herds in the wild. It’s identified by listlessness, weight loss and pneumonia, and is always fatal. It’s transmitted by deer saliva, and those infected salivate heavily.
It’s centered in the Rocky Mountain states, but there are also concentrations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, Pennsylvania/West Virginia, and in the Canadian Provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. For a map of CWD states, visit www.outdooralabama.com/map-cwd-north-america.
There have been minor outbreaks in a number of other states as well, which is why Alabama has a blanket rule that bans all import of whole deer from any other state, period. It affects both whitetails and mule deer as well as elk and moose. The only cure is to kill all animals in the affected areas, which has led to the destruction of a number of deer farm herds in recent years.
Alabamians who hunt in CWD-affected states are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the CWD carcass ban. The ADCNR says it’s critical to completely debone the animal, remove and dispose of any brain or spinal tissue from skull plates, raw capes and hides before returning to Alabama. Root structures and other soft tissue should also be removed from all teeth. Additionally, skull plates must be cleaned with a bleach-based solution. Finished taxidermy products and tanned hides are not affected by the ban.