With Chronic Wasting Disease discovered in bordering Quebec, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries has implemented emergency rules designed to protect Maine’s deer and moose herds, and keep Maine CWD free.

“Chronic Wasting Disease is the most serious threat facing our deer and moose populations in modern times,” said Chandler Woodcock, commissioner of the MDIFW. “Unchecked, this disease could devastate Maine’s deer and moose populations, and ravage Maine’s hunting and wildlife watching economy.”

CWD is 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 always is fatal, there is no treatment, vaccine or resistance, and once present in the state, it is nearly impossible to eradicate.

In order to halt the spread of CWD and keep the devastating disease out of Maine, the department has implemented the following rules regarding the importation of deer and other cervids into the state.

It is now illegal to bring cervid carcasses or parts except in the following manner: 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; and finished taxidermy mounts.

In addition, the rule also prohibits the temporary importation of cervid carcasses and parts that are in-transit through Maine to another jurisdiction. These rules apply to all states and provinces with the exception of New Hampshire.

In addition, the department urges hunters to help halt the spread of CWD by following these guidelines:

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.

Follow the laws and rules regarding the importation of harvested deer, moose or elk from any state or provinces (other than New Hampshire). CWD is carried in the brain and spinal cord of infected deer. It is vitally important these parts are not transported across state and provincial boundaries.

Report deer that appear sick, weak or starving to the MDIFW so 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.

Following these guidelines will help prevent the spread of CWD as deer shed prions in urine, feces and saliva and Infected animals can start shedding prions nearly a year before showing clinical signs of the disease.

“We hope that all hunters take an active role in keeping CWD out of Maine by doing their part to prevent the spread of CWD,” said Woodcock.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.